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Milwaukee Bucks Sit Out Puts NBA Playoffs on Pause, Leads to Postponements in Other Sports

The future of the NBA Playoffs is in question. That’s after a movement started by the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday in wake of the ongoing tensions in Kenosha, Wis. led to the postponement of the league’s three postseason games that day.

Sterling Brown, front left, and George Hill, center, of the Milwaukee Bucks, give a statement after their NBA playoff game with the Orlando Magic was postponed Wednesday. The Bucks players chose not to play because of the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., earlier this week. (Image: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported NBA players at the bubble in the Walt Disney World Resort held a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss future plans. “Momentum,” he said, was building toward staying off the court Thursday, too. But he added another meeting will take place Thursday morning to determine how they’ll move forward with the playoffs.

Players from the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers — two of the three favorites to win the NBA title — voted to boycott the rest of the season, although the rest of the teams did not join them, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported.

The stoppage stems from a shooting Sunday of a Black man by a White police officer in the southern Wisconsin town. Video footage on social media showed Jacob Blake walking away from officers and going to the driver’s side door of a vehicle. As he tried to enter the car, an officer trailing him grabbed Blake’s shirt. The officer proceeds to shoot Blake multiple times in the back.

Reports indicate Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down.

The shooting has led to nights of protests in the town, located about 45 minutes south of Milwaukee. On Tuesday night, the video showed an armed White male shooting protesters before walking towards police officers. The Associated Press reported two people died in the incident.

Video showed police neither detained nor confronted the male. He was later identified as Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Illinois, and the AP reported he was arrested in his home state on suspicion of intentional homicide.

Postponements in Other Leagues, Too

The Bucks were supposed to play the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday afternoon. But with just minutes before the tip, the Bucks remained in their locker room while the Magic warmed up. Moments later, news of a sit out came.

In a statement, the players said the shootings of Blake and the protesters, along with other similar incidents that have taken place in recent months, demand a response.

We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” the players said in a joing statement. “For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform.”

In a separate statement, the team’s owners supported the move.

After the Bucks decision, the league announced it would postpone Wednesday’s three games. The move came after it was apparent players from Houston Rockets vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder and Lakers vs. the Portland Trail Blazers would follow suit.

Two months ago, when protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis were taking place across the country, there was some talk among the players of opting out of playing in support of the demonstrations.

The postponements spilled over into other sports. In MLB, the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds agreed to call off their game Wednesday and plan to play a doubleheader Thursday. Two other MLB games, the Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the San Francisco Giants, were postponed after the teams elected not to play. In other games, some players chose not to play in solidarity with the teams sitting out.

The WNBA also had its three games scheduled for Wednesday postponed after its players joined with the NBA.  In Major League Soccer, five games were postponed. The decision came after the start of the Orlando City SC-Nashville SC contest, which was the only game played.

The NHL did not postpone any of its playoff games.

Sportsbooks Split on Handling Postponements

While trivial compared to the protests, Wednesday’s postponements did have an impact on sportsbooks, which took action on the games.

BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet announced online they would void all bets made on the NBA games.  However, not all sportsbooks voided the bets because of the postponements. USBookmaking, which operates sportsbooks for the Isleta Resort Casino in New Mexico and Sky Ute Casino Resort in Colorado, will honor the bets regardless of the day the games are played.

The one exception to that rule is baseball, Robert Walker, director of sportsbook operations told Casino.org. That’s because baseball games are now being rescheduled as part of seven-inning doubleheaders instead of regular nine-inning games.

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