LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are not planning to return to the court this season and could leave the NBA bubble as early as Thursday morning.
According to The Athletic, James and the Lakers and Leonard and the Clippers voted to boycott the remainder of the 2020 playoffs at a meeting Wednesday night. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Thursday with the fate of the postseason and beyond hanging in the balance.
Players have been in the Orlando area for the resumption of the season since mid-July.
The Milwaukee Bucks, the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, conferenced with the Wisconsin state attorney general on Wednesday to demand change and justice in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man who was shot seven times by uniformed officers in Kenosha, Wisc., which is 40 minutes south of Milwaukee. The officers have not been arrested or charged.
The Bucks are closer to matters of police brutality than some NBA teams, and not just geographically speaking. Backup guard Sterling Brown has an ongoing lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee for a police brutality incident in January 2018.
Brown was one of the players who spoke when the Bucks joined a call in the locker room with Wisconsin government officials, seeking answers and suggestions on how to force immediate change.
Brown read the team’s statement to the media in the hallway of the empty arena near Orlando explaining the team’s position.
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American community,” Brown read. “Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we have seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there have been no actions, so our focus cannot be on basketball.”
NBA union president Chris Paul met with Russell Westbrook before the second game of the day Wednesday, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, was postponed.
Paul and Bucks player rep Kyle Korver were among the players who led Wednesday night’s meeting, per multiple reports.
-Field Level Media