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Photo Credit Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers 2020 Season Almost Burst Inside the Bubble

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The Los Angeles Lakers were set to face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of their first round playoff match-up on Wednesday night before all the games came to a crashing halt again.

 

This time, however, it was not the coronavirus that caused the stoppage. It was the players themselves who chose to boycott their playoff games after the social injustice by the Kenosha, Wisconsin policeman that shot an African-American man by the name of Jacob Blake.

 

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Photo Credit: Handout

Just a few days ago, videos surfaced around the country of a horrific scene that took place in the city of Kenosha. In the video, a police officer shot Mr. Blake in the back seven times, as he was trying to get into his car. To make matters worse, in his car were his three children, who bore witness to their father being brutally shot.

The video sparked outrage around the country. Many people are tired of racism and social injustices that have been going on throughout 2020, let alone the past 400 years.

Things hit a peak a few months back when a video surfaced of George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer via laying his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Then several police officers ambushed, shot, and killed Breonna Taylor while she was asleep in her home. What makes these scenarios even more outrageous is that those officers have yet to been arrested or charged.

 

With heavy hearts and inequality on their minds, most of the NBA players and staff returned to action in the Walt Disney World campus bubble in Orlando.

 

They vowed to keep using their voices and positions as a platform to let it known that they are still fighting for the rights of black people and minorities in America. The league had their back and let it be known loud and proud on their courts in all caps, “Black Lives Matter.”

After the 22 competing teams played their scrimmages and then seeding games, it was time for the playoffs. We were a little over a week into the first round of the playoffs when the Jacob Blake tragedy occurred. Fortunately for Blake, he did survive the shooting and is in critical condition, but paralyzed from the waist down as we speak.

The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, who both swept their opponents and were set to face off in the second round Thursday, were reportedly discussing boycotting their game. But before they could, the Milwaukee Bucks decided that they would be the first team to take a stand.

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Photo Credit: USA Today

Milwaukee, which is 40 miles south of Kenosha, realized that it was their opportunity to let it be known and sit out the game as the home team of where the shootings took place. George Hill came up with the idea while he and his team were getting ready to come out for pre-game warm-ups. He told his teammates his concept, and they supported him.

Nobody from their organization came out to the court to warm up for their Game 5 game against the Orlando Magic.

As the Magic players and staff stood on one side of the court, everyone started to realize what was going on, as no one from the Bucks organization was present, and it was past their scheduled game time.

While remaining in their locker room, the organization called out to the Wisconsin district attorney to take some action and arrest the police officers who shot Blake. At that moment, there was still no word whether any action was taken or not. They were hoping that this could have been the first step in making some actual change and getting all of those officers, from the Floyd and Taylor murders, what they deserve.

 

Once word got around that they were boycotting their game, Orlando joined them and left the court as well, not accepting the forfeit.

 

We soon learned that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets were also going to be boycotting their Game 5 as well. It was not long after that when we knew that the Lakers and Trail Blazers would also not be playing on Wednesday.

Back in March, other professional leagues around the country postponed all of their games for the day, including the WNBA, MLB, and MLS. That was the case on Wednesday when once again, the WNBA and MLB postponed games. No one was sure what each league would do from here on out, but we did know that the rest of the NBA playoffs may have been in jeopardy.

There was a player meeting for all of the NBA teams later on Wednesday night to discuss where to go from here.

Sources also said that Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem gave a powerful speech in the player meeting. He offered a different perspective on how the players shouldn’t take this Bubble opportunity for granted in terms of maximizing the platform to voice their displeasure.

 

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The Lakers and Clippers walked out after voting NOT to play the rest of the season. LeBron James and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard both spoke up in the players meeting Wednesday night and were adamant about not playing the rest of the playoffs, and they wanted to see a change.

As for the other teams, they all reportedly voted to continue playing.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers and Clippers vote “was considered more of a polling, than a final vote.” He continued the tweet with, “The resumption of the playoffs remains still up in the air.”

Several key members of Lakers, and some peers around the league, stayed up until early morning hours talking through issues in the Bubble and what changes they wanted to see if they were to stay in Orlando per Wojnarowski.

 

On Thursday there seemed to be a change of heart from LeBron.

 

The players continued to discuss their decision on Thursday morning, around the same time as when the NBA’s Board of Governors had their meeting. The players agreed to reschedule the playoff games on either Friday or Saturday, and that Thursday’s games will also not take place.

There was also a meeting of NBA owners and players set for later Thursday afternoon. The discussion was expected to include plans of action moving forward on social justice issues.

 

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Photo Credit: Sportico.com

As for LeBron, there was a change in position from last night. He, amongst others, felt that for relaying their message, it would be in their best interest to finish out the season. It is presumed that he was involved in the meetings that went into the early morning to come with better solutions.

In an on-the-court note that will affect the Lakers’ and Trail Blazers’ series, Blazers guard Damian Lillard left the Bubble on Thursday and returned to Portland to get further examination on his right knee. The status of him returning to the Bubble remains uncertain but seems unlikely.

 

 

 

This could have marked the end of the Lakers‘ season, and it would have been unfortunate as they looked poised to make a run for their 17th championship. But at the end of the day, the racism and social injustices in this country are a lot bigger than basketball, and I, like many others, support their decision.

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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24

 

 

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