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'This was of seismic significance' | Jay Busbee on the NBA boycott

It is difficult to contextualise the impact that the actions of the NBA players will have on Amer...

'This was of seismic significa...
Other Sports

'This was of seismic significance' | Jay Busbee on the NBA boycott

It is difficult to contextualise the impact that the actions of the NBA players will have on American society.

That being said it is undeniably a seminal moment in the country's history, according to Jay Busbee.

Busbee, a senior writer with Yahoo Sports, joined Thursday evening's Off The Ball, to discuss the fallout from the Milwaukee Bucks decision to not take to the court before their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

"It's so recent it's almost like one of yet another lightning strikes that we've had this summer. I think it's going to take a while for us to recognise [how important the moment is]. This was of seismic significance," Busbee said.

"Very few American sports teams will take the stance where they will walk off the field. It's almost never happened and for it to happen, in not just one sport but across multiple sports, they all walked off the field, walked off the court in solidarity."

"That was incredibly empowering for the entire movement."

The Bucks' decision, which came as a surprise to the other teams in the NBA bubble, eventually led to the postponement of three playoff games on Wednesday. It followed the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Los Angeles Lakers meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers was also postponed, as well as the Houston Rockets' clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The shooting took place on Sunday night and it left Blake paralysed.

The news came in light of recent global protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in May. It once again placed the issue of police brutality towards the black community in America in full view.

In Orlando, players held meetings throughout Wednesday and Thursday to discuss whether or not it was appropriate to return.

NBA July 30, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers in a Black Lives Matter Shirt kneel with their teammates during the national anthem prior to the game against the LA Clippers at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on July 30, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA

Much of this was led by Chris Paul, point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder and President of the National Basketball Players Association, who was also instrumental in the league restarting some weeks ago.

Paul, like countless other NBA players, has highlighted the continuing racial injustice in America since the games got underway.

LeBron James has also worked tirelessly on this front whether that be his recent decision to set up an organisation to address voter suppression or speaking on the subject from Orlando.

LeBron's voice carries a weight that transcends sport, unlike many other athletes.

"It starts and ends with LeBron James," said Busbee. "This guy is not only one of the most talented basketball players of all time but he's one of the most respected.

"He's made it very much his mission to be more than a basketball player, more than a guy who just 'shuts up and dribbles,"

Initially, it was reported that James' Lakers, along with cross-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, voted to end the league entirely.

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, right, steals the ball from Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Ultimately that has not materialised and the games are expected to resume, however, those scheduled for Thursday have also been postponed including the Eastern Conference semi-finals opener between the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics.

While the players have agreed to resume play, it was not without problems, according to Busbee. Sources in Orlando had indicated that there was discontent among the players that the message of social justice was not being pushed hard enough by the various team owners.

"There were a lot of emotions as you would expect," Busbee continued. "[There was] a lot of conflicting feels and a lot of concern, on the players part, that the owners weren't holding up their share of this push for racial justice."

Before the league resumed some players were unsure of whether or not it was the right choice to play sports at all and whether it would detract from the BLM movement's momentum.

George Hill, guard for the Milwaukee Bucks echoed this sentiment on Monday.

"We shouldn't have even came to this damn place, to be honest," Hill told USA Today.

"Coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we're here. It is what it is.

"We can't do anything from right here. But I think definitely when it all settles some things need to be done."

OTB AM Officials stand beside an empty court at the scheduled start of an NBA basketball first round playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Milwaukee Bucks didn't take the floor in protest against racial injustice and the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

Some may feel like they can resume the game while continuing, as they have done since the beginning of the Orlando experience, to highlight the issues that plague America but it is uncertain at this juncture whether the NBA will finish the season at all.

Tragically, it is likely that another act of police violence towards members of the black community may take place in the coming weeks. If that occurs, it is not unforeseeable that the players would walk away altogether at that point, according to Busbee.

"They've shown that they're willing to do this. This is a huge step, this is unthinkable, until now in American sports and they went ahead and did it.

"So now that that barrier has been crossed, I could very easily see it being crossed again."

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Adam Silver Chris Paul LeBron James NBA National Basketball Players Association