MLB, WNBA, NHL React to Jacob Blake Shooting, Bucks’ Strike

    • Shortly after the Milwaukee Bucks sat out their playoff game, other teams around pro sports followed.
    • Atlanta Dream’s Elizabeth Williams read a statement on behalf of all WNBA players on ESPN announcing that they “stand in solidarity” with the NBA and “look to take collective action” with players across all leagues.

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In the wake of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Game 5 playoff strike and the NBA’s ensuing decision to postpone all Aug. 26 games, other professional athletes are starting to react.

The Bucks’ strike was in response to numerous instances of police violence, brought back into the spotlight with the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. on Aug. 23. The NBA’s restarted season has featured an ongoing conversation about how the league can be more effective in its social justice efforts.

MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers have also decided not to play their scheduled game against the Cincinnati Reds, first reported by The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond. The Reds agreed not to play, eliminating the possibility of a “forfeit situation,” according to Diamond. 

ESPN’s Jeff Passan added that “more teams are discussing the possibility of not playing” — among those that will reportedly not play are the Seattle Mariners, who have the most Black players of any MLB team. Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward has decided to sit out against the Detroit Tigers, as have St. Louis Cardinals players Dexter Fowler and Jack Flaherty against the Kansas City Royals.

The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers game was also postponed according to Passan.

In the WNBA, which has been at the forefront of social justice conversations for years with a heightened focus since live sports returned amid the pandemic, Washington Mystics players wore shirts spelling out “Jacob Blake” prior to their game, with seven gunshot wounds drawn on the back. Blake was shot seven times. 

The Mystics and Atlanta Dream met on the court ahead of their scheduled game and spoke for almost an hour, and then were joined by the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx players. All of them then linked and took a knee.

Initially, according to Bleacher Report’s Arielle Chambers, WNBA players planned to stop playing every seven minutes out of protest, but Chambers later reported that all Aug. 26 games were canceled. The Dream’s Elizabeth Williams later read a statement on behalf of all WNBA players on ESPN announcing that they “stand in solidarity” with the NBA and “look to take collective action” with players across all leagues. The statement also implored listeners to vote.

As for the NHL, Deputy Commissioner Billy Daly said around 6 p.m. ET that he does not expect the league to “initiate a game stoppage,” according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. 

Johnston also reported that the NHL will hold a moment of reflection before the Tampa Bay Lightning-Boston Bruins game in Toronto and the Colorado Avalanche-Dallas Stars game in Edmonton. MLS also postponed five of its matches Aug. 26.

Naomi Osaka announced she will not play in her Western & Southern Open semifinal match Aug. 27 in protest of police brutality occurring in the U.S.