The players of the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons opened their game on Wednesday by taking a knee after tip-off in protest of the decision on Tuesday to not pursue criminal charges against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake.
The protest also took place mere hours after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol amid a ceremonial event to affirm the election of Joe Biden.
The two teams actually took a knee twice, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Blake Griffin intentionally turning the ball over to exchange possessions. Play was soon underway after the second turnover.
After the game, Pistons coach Dwane Casey confirmed the kneeling was in protest of Blake’s shooting, while ESPN’s Eric Woodyard shed some light on the idea behind the form of protest:
Milwaukee's idea to kneel for 7 seconds was for the 7 times that Jacob Blake was shot.
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) January 7, 2021
The protests were part of a politically charged day across in the league, between the Blake decision and the incident at the Capitol.
Widespread protest across NBA
The Bucks and Pistons’ protest was the second of the day after players on the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics left the court and later took a knee during the national anthem before their game. The teams released a joint statement lamenting the decision to not charge Blake’s shooter and the comparatively mild treatment that Trump’s supporters experienced as they breached the Capitol.
The Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors also locked arms at center court in another demonstration before their game, while the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors both took knees before their game.
Several coaches and players have spoken out against the chaos at the Capitol, with Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers asking how the situation would have played out had it been Black people storming the building. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called out senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio for their culpability in the incident.
For the Bucks and Pistons, however, the lack of charges for Blake’s shooting, which occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was the impetus for their protest. The Bucks were the first to walk off an NBA court and trigger a wildcat strike in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and they also released a statement in response to the decision not to charge the officer.
Players on the Bucks have joined in protests and spoken at length about racial injustice over the last year, and Wednesday was the latest evidence that the team isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
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