The National Basketball Association has done it again.
The professional sports organization continues to be at the forefront of using its international platform to advance social justice and civil rights (with the one black eye being its awful decision to cave in when the Chinese government harassed it over one person’s comment about human rights).
On Wednesday, the league’s front office publicly backed one of its elite teams — the Milwaukee Bucks — when the players chose to boycott a playoff game because of the vicious shooting of Jacob Blake in the Wisconsin city of Kenosha. Blake, who is black, was shot seven times in the back; he survived the shooting by a white police officer, but he remains paralyzed.
Within roughly 30 minutes of the Bucks’ decision not to play, the NBA’s front office announced all playoff games scheduled for Wednesday were off.
The justification was straightforward: Games, even those with championship implications, aren’t as important as recognizing the horrific social injustice that continues to exist in the United States.
Sadly, two other professional leagues playing on Wednesday chose not to make the same decision about its games: The NHL and MLB schedules moved ahead, though a few baseball teams did refuse to play.
In making its decision, MLS acknowledged the lead taken by the NBA.
I won’t pretend I’m a huge basketball fan and fawn all over the players who again demonstrated they’re going to use their public positions to call out injustice and to (hopefully) be agents of change. I’m at best a casual basketball fan, one who is paying some attention to the ongoing postseason.
However, I will say that the NBA, again, has earned my admiration for what it’s doing. Whether through social media, direct action or donning specific apparel, the league’s front office and the players are reminding us that games might matter but Black Lives (Definitely) Matter.