Wednesday was an emotional day around the country. Not only were we forced to sit back and watch the horror of armed insurrectionists storming their way into the nation’s Capitol building, news also emerged that the officers involved in the Jacob Blake shooting were avoiding criminal charges.
The NBA world has, of course, has been closely involved in the Blake case, as it was one of the many police shootings of unarmed Black citizens that prompted them to sit out games in Orlando and demand that the league and its owners step up and join them in taking meaningful action to support social change.
Given the gravity of Wednesday’s news that the Kenosha District attorney would not file charges against Rusten Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake in the back multiple times, there was some question of whether the Bucks might choose to sit out their game in protest, just as they did in the Bubble this summer.
Instead, they opted to play, only after taking a moment to kneel after tip-off to show their solidarity with Blake, his family, and his many supporters around the country. Now, it appears to chose to play partly at the behest of Blake’s father, who reportedly reached to Giannis Antetokounmpo to encourage him and the Bucks to take the court.
Those conversations picked up momentum through the day and especially once at the arena Wednesday. All topics were on the table, from demonstrating during the anthem to not playing the game. Antetokounmpo said the team got a message from Jacob Blake’s father that the family wanted them to play and to use their platform, which the league’s Most Valuable Player said helped push them to think of a different method of demonstration.
Several other teams joined together in kneeling at tip-off and issuing statements condemning the violence at the Capitol and the inaction in the Blake case. The treatment of the pro-Trump rioters in Washington only underscored the double-standard applied to Blake and other Black people around the country when dealing with authorities. In keeping with Blake’s father’s wishes, coaches and players around the league have continued to use their platform in recent days to call out the hypocrisy and demand equal justice.