BOSTON (CBS) — Game 1 of the Celtics-Raptors playoff series has been put on hold. One day after the NBA postponed all three of its playoff games on Wednesday, the league has done the same for Thursday’s slate.
The league will not hold any games on Thursday, but it hopes to resume the postseason on Friday, according to an official announcement.
Thursday’s decision comes as players around the league are refusing to play in light of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the weekend. Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times in the back by police during an altercation. Video of the incident has sparked more outrage throughout the country, and NBA players wanted to send a message that racial inequality will not be tolerated and changes need to be made throughout the country.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to boycott their game, refusing to take the floor Wednesday afternoon ahead of Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. A short time later, the NBA then announced that all of Wednesday’s games were postponed. Players held a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the future of the playoffs and how to use their platform to spread their message, with many reportedly stating a desire to end the season.
It doesn’t appears as though that will be the case any more, but it’s clear that players want to get their message across. Players have worn jerseys with “Black Lives Matter,” “Equality,” and other social messages on the back, and teams have knelt and locked arms during the national anthem. Players felt that both of those efforts have fallen on deaf ears as they beg for change throughout the country.
Celtics guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart both spoke about the Blake incident on Tuesday, and alluded to a potential boycott. The Celtics and Raptors met Tuesday evening and on Wednesday to discuss the possibility ahead of Milwaukee’s decision on Wednesday.
It’s a difficult spot for players, who have been stuck in the NBA bubble down in Orlando since early July. Several Celtics players participated in peaceful protests in May following the murder of George Floyd, and leaving the bubble to partake in protests was part of their team discussions over the last few days. Brown issued a challenge to his fellow players Wednesday night to use their time to wisely and let their voices be heard should they be sent home.
“We’re more than basketball players, we’re people. We have these raw emotions and feelings,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said Wednesday. “We’re just trying to get the message out that this is bigger than basketball.
“How many points you score or games you win, that [stuff] don’t matter no more. Being a Black man in America is more important than what I do on the basketball court,” added Tatum. “Helping create conversation or change is more important than anything I can do out there. You think about a man being shot seven times in the back with his kids in the car is more about anything I can do on the floor.”
“There’s more important things than basketball right now,” Smart said Tuesday. “Something has to be done, and right now our focus should not be on basketball.”
“All we can hope and try to do is impact change. That’s something that we always strive for,” forward Grant Williams said Wednesday. “We understand that change can’t happen overnight. It’s systematic, something that has been in our system for 400 years. But you also can’t allow something to be stagnant and that’s how we felt it was.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 26, 2020
Game 2 of the Celtics-Raptors series was scheduled for Saturday, but now, early indications are that Game 1 will be Sunday. A firm decision on scheduling is expected to be made on Thursday afternoon.