NBA Playoffs to Resume Saturday; Friday Games Postponed as Protests Continue – Bleacher Report

Members of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics kneel around a Black Lives Matter logo before the start of an NBA basketball game Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association issued a joint statement Friday confirming the playoffs will resume Saturday. The statement also outlined initiatives the two sides will work on together to push the social justice movement forward:

Among the initiatives agreed to, the league and players will “immediately establish a social justice coalition, with representatives from players, coaches and governors, that will be focused on a broad range of issues, including increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.”

The second initiative requires team governors to work with local election officials in cities where the “league franchise owns and controls the arena property” to convert those facilities into an election facility for the 2020 general election “to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID.”

Team governors must work with local officials to find another “election-related use” for the facility, including voter registration and ballot receiving boards, if the deadline to set up voting in an arena has passed.

The final initiative will see the league and players work with broadcast partners to “create and include advertising spots” in every remaining playoff game that will be dedicated to “promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”

Players, coaches and staffers continued to protest for social justice Friday, the third consecutive day the NBA playoffs have been shut down.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team that decided not to play games Wednesday when they remained in their locker room as Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic was supposed to begin. 

Milwaukee’s decision came amid ongoing protests after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 23. 

Per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Tim Bontemps, Bucks players spoke to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Wednesday after refusing to play their game to ask what they could do to impact real social changes.

“They were very interested in a call to action,” Barnes said. “They wanted something tangible that they could do in the short and long term. They wanted the walkout [from Wednesday’s game against the Orlando Magic] to be Step 1.”

After players for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets voted not to play later that same day, the NBA and NBPA jointly announced all games would be postponed and rescheduled.

While there was speculation that the playoffs might not be completed, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported players did vote to keep playing at some point during a conference call Thursday.

The NBA issued a statement afterward announcing Thursday’s playoff games had been postponed, but the league was “hopeful to resume” play either Friday or Saturday:

Following the players’ decision to go on strike, NBA employees have followed suit. ESPN’s Malika Andrews reported Friday around 100 NBA employees were going to walk out of the league offices in solidarity with NBA and WNBA players who are advocating for social change.

NBA referees marched in the Walt Disney World Resort campus Thursday to protest against racism and police brutality.