On Wednesday afternoon, the Orlando Magic took the floor for their Game 5 pregame warm-up, but they didn’t stay long.
The Milwaukee Bucks never showed.
In the wake of Sunday’s Wisconsin shooting involving unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, 29, and Kenosha police where the victim was shot seven times in the back after reportedly breaking up a dispute between two women, local peaceful protesters took to the streets. Blake’s incident, which has left him paralyzed — to what extent remains unknown — calls into question, yet again, why police and politicians refuse to admit that not only do Black lives matter, but that our officers in blue feel it’s acceptable to execute unarmed men without arresting them first, unless, of course, their only crime was being Black.
On Monday, Bucks guard George Hill was already one of several “psychologically distraught” Milwaukee players, who voiced his opinion over the NBA reconvening, saying “We shouldn’t have even come to this damn place, to be honest.”
Similar to the response to May’s George Floyd shooting in which multiple cops went well above the call of duty towards an unarmed Black man, peaceful protesters were confronted by their own oppression of armed men with no purpose being there other than to incite more violence. On Tuesday night, 17-year-old Blue Lives Matter enthusiast (for lack of a stronger word), Kyle Rittenhouse, killed two protesters and injured one just before approaching police with his automatic weapon and his hands up. Police walked past the white teen, who was later apprehended for first-degree murder in his home state of Illinois on Wednesday, only after another social media outrage cried for it.
With multiple players on the Bucks team, who clinched the number-one seed in the East for the NBA playoffs and were set to close out their series against the Magic on Wednesday, reportedly very upset over the shootings on Monday, it came as no surprise they took an immediate stand Wednesday by boycotting their game. In response, the NBA postponed the rest of the playoffs until further notice. Shortly after, former NBA all-star Kenny Smith walked off the stage during a TNT broadcast in support of the NBA strike.
The Milwaukee Bucks are man enough. Kenny Smith is man enough.
They’re man enough to recognize injustice and refuse to just watch anymore. They’re man enough to not be complicit, as we’ve learned silence makes us. They’re man enough to stand up for what’s right and, in this case, what’s incredibly wrong in our society. They’re man enough to do what needs to be done for change to occur.
And the response of the NBA shows exactly how effective these men can be. When people and groups large enough, influential enough and bold enough decide to be man enough (or woman enough), others will have no choice but to support. Kenny Smith just showed Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley that, despite being much smaller, he’s man enough.
So how about it, are you man enough?
What will you do to make a change and how long until you do?
If you’re not sure, ask yourself this: What’s it going to take to get you to?