Rockets-Thunder joining players boycotting of playoff games

The Milwaukee Bucks bench remains empty after the scheduled start of an NBA basketball first round playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

The Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder Game 5 first-round Western Conference playoff game Wednesday night is being boycotted by the players as a show of protest against the latest police shooting of a Black man, according to several reports.

The boycott is part of a day of protesting by the NBA players with the Milwaukee-Orlando Game 5 starting it off Wednesday afternoon when the players refused to take the court in the Orlando bubble. The Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers Game 5, which is the late game, is also being boycotted.

The players are upset over Sunday’s shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin where Jacob Blake was shot seven times by police officers. Blake is now paralyzed, and his chances of walking again are described as, “it’s going to take a miracle.”

Players like LeBron James and Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers are been particularly vocal in recent days in their protest of the rash of senseless shootings of unarmed Black men by white police officers.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was a no show for his scheduled pre-game press conference on Wednesday afternoon. No explanation was given, but it is a mandatory availability on game nights.

The Bucks were the first team to officially boycott Wednesday when they did not take the court. This latest incident of police shooting a Black man hits particularly close to home for the Bucks.

“We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks guard George Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears.

The NBA, perhaps, more than only other professional league, has seemed to be onboard with its players social protesting, allowing them to have social messages on the back of their jerseys during this restart of the season in Orlando. Black Lives Matter also serves as a logo on the basketball courts the teams are playing on at Disney World.

But how this latest move will play with the powers to be in the NBA is not yet known. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are also discussing boycotting Thursday night’s games and that seems very likely given what is taking place Wednesday.

The NBA is describing the boycotted games as being postponed and said that Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled. The league did not say when the games will be rescheduled.

Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris