NBA players have decided to resume the playoffs, according to multiple reports.
Still, the league said three playoff games were postponed on Thursday – as athletes across the US sports landscape joined in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by refusing to play scheduled games or practice for a second consecutive day.
“We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday,” the National Basketball Association said.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the NBA players’ decision to return to the postseason.
The postponements come after a historic day for professional sports, with athletes banding together to stand against racial injustice following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
A video conference call “to discuss next steps” was to be held Thursday between “a group of NBA players and team governors representing the 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association and the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan,” according to the statement.
CNN has sought comment from the players’ union.
Trumps says player protests not good for sports or country
President Trump likened the NBA to a “political organization” and slammed its “very bad” ratings when asked about the players’ historic protests.
“I don’t know much about the NBA protests,” Trump told reporters during a hurricane briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “I know their ratings have been very bad because I think people are a little tired of the NBA, frankly.”
Trump added, “They’ve become like a political organization and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told CNN that Trump has failed to “acknowledge a lot of these men and women have had brothers, sisters, husbands, wives who have been victimized just because of their color.”
“The vast majority of the American people are ready to deal with systemic racism,” Biden added. “And all this administration does is keep pouring gasoline on the fire.”
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called for action against racial injustice.
“Change doesn’t happen with just talk!!” he wrote on Twitter. “It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my @IPROMISESchool kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That’s why your vote is @morethanavote #BlackLivesMatter.”
Three NBA playoff games were postponed Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the floor against the Orlando Magic as players took a stand with their Bucks counterparts. Three WNBA, five Major League Soccer and three Major League Baseball games were also postponed that same day. Seven more MLB games Thursday were postponed.
Naomi Osaka said Wednesday she wouldn’t play in her semifinal match Thursday at the Western & Southern Open. After her announcement, the tournament paused play for Thursday; it will resume on Friday, and Osaka is scheduled to play.
And following the postponement of its opening series against the Portland Trail Blazers, players from the Los Angeles Lakers – as well as its city counterparts the Los Angeles Clippers – voted to boycott the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season, according to Shams Charania, who is with both The Athletic and Stadium.
A WNBA statement said three Thursday games – Chicago Sky against Indiana Fever, Dallas Wings versus New York Liberty, and Las Vegas Aces against Seattle Storm – were postponed as “players continue discussions and reflection on recent events.”
There was no immediate rescheduling information, but players are expected to take the court Friday.
“This is not a strike. This is not a boycott. This is affirmatively a day of reflection. A day of informed action and mobilization,” Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) president and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike told ESPN.
Elizabeth Williams, an Atlanta Dream star and WNBPA secretary, told CNN Thursday that players were focused on social justice since the beginning of the season.
“We were in a unique position having so many televised games that we would be able to show our activism,” she said.
NHL postpones four playoff games
The National Hockey League, which came under fire for playing a day earlier, on Thursday announced that it was postponing four playoff games.
Thursday’s Philadelphia Flyers game against the New York Islanders and the Vegas Golden Knights’ game against the Vancouver Canucks were called off. So were Friday night’s games between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars.
In the NFL, several teams canceled practice Thursday to focus on conversations about race. The season begins September 10.
The Denver Broncos joined the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team and New York Jets in forgoing practice to allow players to weigh in on what they can do to effect change.
“Friday we can return to football…” Washington head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “In place of our practice at FedEx Field, the players, coaches and football staff will meet as a football family and we will continue our open dialogue on the issues of racism and social injustice in our country… We are all in this together. And as a team we will work to figure out ways that we can make a positive impact in our communities.”
The Chicago Bears said in a statement that the team was pausing football activities “to voice to each other, our coaches and our staff where we stand on the real issues around race and police brutality in our country.”
The NFL and the NFL Players Association said in a joint statement that both were “united more than ever to support one another in these challenging times.”
“We share anger and frustration, most recently as a result of the shooting of Jacob Blake.”
Blake, a Black man, was shot in the back by police on Sunday as he tried to enter his vehicle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His shooting became the latest incident to prompt outrage nationwide over racial injustice and police brutality.
NBA players last sat out a game in protest nearly 60 years ago
NBA players boycotting a game has happened only once before, according to Elle Duncan of ESPN. Almost 60 years ago, Hall of Famer Bill Russell and some of his Boston Celtics teammates sat out a game in 1961 in protest of racial injustice.
Strikes are banned under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, which means the Bucks players broke their own contract in order to protest racial injustice and police violence.
In a players’ meeting on Wednesday night, the LA teams were reportedly the only two NBA teams who voted to boycott the NBA season. Charania, who cites unnamed sources in his reporting, said all other NBA teams voted to continue playing.
The vote that was taken doesn’t appear to be binding. According to Wojnarowski, who cited unnamed sources, it was more of a poll than a final vote.
CNN’s Ben Morse, Allie Malloy and Dan Kamal contributed to this report.