Bucks’ boycott forces NBA to postpone games

An empty court and bench are shown after the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t take the floor for their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic on Aug 26. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: The US National Basketball Association has postponed three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their playoff series against Orlando Magic in protest over racial injustice.

The action by the Wisconsin-based team follows the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in the city of Kenosha, also in Wisconsin, on Sunday.

“In light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – Bucks vs Magic, Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers – have been postponed,” the NBA said in a statement.

“Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”

Earlier in the day, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters that the Bucks organisation were “very disturbed by what’s happening in Kenosha”.

“It’s a great challenge to have an appreciation and a desire for change and to want something different and better in Kenosha and Milwaukee and Wisconsin and then go out and play a game,” he said.

The Magic, who trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven, first-round series, left the court when it was clear the Bucks were not going to play.

Beyonce’s song “Freedom” rang out in the empty arena in Orlando as the clock counting down to the start of the game ran out.

The Athletic reported that the Bucks players were in the locker room attempting to reach Wisconsin attorney-general Josh Kaul.

Citing sources, the online publication said the Magic would not accept a forfeit of the game.

The Bucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Protests against racial injustice and police brutality have been at the forefront since the NBA restarted their season in a bio-secure bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando last month.

The courts have the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on them and many players are wearing jerseys with social justice slogans on them but the Bucks’ boycott were the most dramatic move by a team to date.

The death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in May, sparked protests across the US, joined by many NBA players.