NBA playoffs set to continue as players 'agree to end boycott'
North American basketball’s NBA season will resume after players agreed to end their boycott of games following days of protests against the shooting of a black man by police officers in the US state of Wisconsin.
The decision was taken following several meetings yesterday involving the league office, board of governors and the National Basketball Players’ Association inside the ‘bubble’ at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, where the NBA playoffs are taking place behind closed doors.
The players’ union met with the league to discuss whether to continue the playoffs after players boycotted three games on Wednesday, which was prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks’ initial decision not to play their game against the Orlando Magic.
The NBA subsequently announced that all three of Wednesday’s games had been postponed, including the Houston Rockets against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The league also postponed all games yesterday as a meeting was scheduled between some NBA players and the owners representing the 13 teams currently in Orlando, along with representatives from the NBPA, the league office and NBA labor relations committee chairman and owner of the Charlotte Hornets Michael Jordan “to discuss next steps."
Three games were on the schedule for Thursday with the Los Angeles Clippers-Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz-Denver Nuggets first round matchups, as well as the opening game of the second round series between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
Talks are ongoing over when the playoffs can resume with Saturday appearing to be the earliest date.
Several reports in the country said the players demanded that the owners use their influence to create more organisational changes and a plan of action to support social and racial justice issues.
Jordan, the only black owner in the league, is believed to have played a key role in the discussions.
It was reported that at an emergency meeting on Wednesday night, the Lakers and the Clippers had voted to abandon the season although the decisions were not necessarily regarded as final.
As well as the NBA, the women’s WNBA also postponed its games last night.
Several other leagues followed suit with baseball’s MLB cancelling seven games and ice hockey’s NHL finally taking the decision to postpone its playoff games on Thursday and Friday after coming under pressure from some players.
The NHL’s postponement impacts all eight of its playoff teams and the league said the four games would be rescheduled beginning on Saturday.
Major League Soccer also postponed their fixtures on Wednesday, while tennis’ Western & Southern Open taking place in New York has been paused until today after Japanese player Naomi Osaka pulled out of her match.
Since the resumption of sport after the suspension of calendars necessitated by the pandemic, leagues and teams across the globe have propagated the Black Lives Matter message, notably with the taking of a knee before games.
The campaign has struck a chord following the death of a black man, George Floyd, as he was being arrested by police officers in Minneapolis in May.
Meanwhile, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers are exploring the possibility of building a new arena and are hoping to receive support from local officials to finance the project, it has been reported.
The Sixers are targeting a new venue by 2031, when the lease on their current home at the Wells Fargo Center is due to expire, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The team is believed to have identified Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River in the city as the location for the new arena.
The 76ers have shared the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia with the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers since the arena opened in 1996, with the venue owned by Comcast-Spectacor, a subsidiary of media giant Comcast, which also owns the Flyers.
A new arena in the city is expected to cost upwards of $1 billion.