Walsh: Listen to message behind NBA game boycotts

Boston Statehouse

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday that “every day the trend also gives us reason for caution in the terms of how gradual it is, in how necessary our precautions have been and how much potential there is for new outbreaks if we don’t keep doing the right thing.” (Photo: Courtesy/City of Boston)

BOSTON (SHNS) – If the Boston Celtics decide to boycott the first game of their playoff series against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday to call attention to the treatment of Black citizens at the hands of police, the team would have the support of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

Since the NBA established its bubble in Florida to finish its interrupted regular season and conduct its playoffs, many of its players have sought to keep attention on the social and racial justice issues that have been at the forefront of American society in recent months.

Since police in Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times on Sunday, players on the Celtics and Raptors have reportedly discussed the idea of boycotting Thursday’s game. “Obviously, if we sit out a game or the rest of the playoffs, we understand how big of an impact that will have,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said Wednesday, according to the Boston Globe. “Everybody’s going to have to talk about it. We don’t want to just keep playing and forget about what’s going on in the outside world because it’s affecting us. It’s affecting everybody.”

Walsh was asked about the possibility of a boycott Wednesday and said he’d support the Celtics, but also added that while “boycotts are great … it’s also about action.” “If that’s what the Celtics and Raptors do … I commend them for it,” the mayor said. “But it’s not just about not playing a basketball game, it’s about hearing the message that those players are passing on to us. It’s the message about not playing that game and what the reasoning behind that is. And I think we need to pay attention to that and pay attention to the different messages that are being sent. If we continue as a society to ignore and avoid those messages, we’ll be in the same exact situation that we’re in today next month, next year, next decade.”

Shortly after Walsh’s press conference, the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic did not take the floor for a scheduled 4 p.m. playoff game.

The Athletic reported that the Bucks “have decided to protest the game” and that a “tense situation” was developing as NBA officials paced outside the Bucks closed locker room. The Celtics and Raptors, the defending NBA champions, are due to tip off Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

After 5 p.m. Wednesday, the NBA tweeted: “The NBA and the NBPA today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – MIL-ORL, HOU-OKC and LAL-POR have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”

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