Op-Ed Sports

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By Edwin Duodu – Sports Editor

The National Basketball Association, led by Adam Silver, has done a phenomenal job of bringing a feel-good factor to the league and fans worldwide. Prior to the playoffs starting, teams who were mathematically still in the race for the playoffs were invited to the NBA bubble. Everything was going according to schedule as the season restarted itself in August, but was once again put on halt when Jacob Blake, an unarmed African American man was shot by police. This shooting sent shockwaves through the nation and caused an uprising in NBA locker rooms as it reminded people of George Floyd, another unarmed African American man who was taken down by police just a few months before and died. It is because of this that players decided to take a stand and boycott the playoffs, using their title as athletes to raise awareness for the importance of black lives. The general populous of the NBA understood why this move took place, but this is the last time we’ll see an instance like this? 

On August 23, 2020, 29-year-old African American Jacob Blake was shot seven times in his back during his arrest. Multiple witnesses have said that Blake was trying to solve a dispute between two women. After officers attempted to subdue him while he headed for his van, officer Rusten Sheskey opened fire. The shooting took place in Kenosha Wisconsin, which caused the Milwaukee Bucks to take the lead in the NBA boycott being that they were from the same state. The Bucks stayed in their locker room during a game 5 matchup with the Orlando Magic, who then also followed by their example. Soon after, the rest of the teams in the bubble decided to cancel their games in hopes of showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It was an action that was unplanned for, but reached the hearts of so many fans and players around the nation. What was most surprising was the decision to quickly resume play for the playoffs.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, sources say “Players and coaches met Wednesday night, August 26th, to discuss the next steps.”

It was also made known that the Los Angeles teams, Lakers and Clippers were in favor of canceling the rest of the postseason. Tensions eventually settled, with Miami Heat veteran “Udonis Haslem being an instrumental voice in speaking to notable players, hearing their concerns for the future,” according to Justin Benjamin of Heat Nation. Ultimately, the majority voted for the season to resume. Charlotte Hornets owner, Michael Jordan reached out to the National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul, in order to discuss their plans as a league moving forward.

 Shortly after the boycott, the National Football League, Women’s National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball all demonstrated their support by canceling practices and any games that were scheduled. How much of an influence does the NBA have on other leagues? A great one to say the least. The NBA restart has given more hope and justification for other leagues to start their respective programs up again, as long as they follow the rules for the safety of the players. However, despite all of that, these are different times. Players are speaking out against racial injustice every day, using their fame through interviews as a main source to reach the people . Have these actions sparked a fire within the hearts of other players in different leagues? Definitely. For example, WNBA players arrived in a game with seven holes on the back of their shirts. In addition to that, players walked in order with a letter on each shirt, spelling out the name of Jacob Blake. Football players are now discussing ways to use their platforms to raise awareness before the start of NFL games. If the WNBA, NFL, and MLB were able to follow the footsteps of the NBA without hesitation, it’s more than likely that if violence towards an unarmed African American happens again, this will not be the last we see of a boycott in a professional league.