Phillies, other pro teams protest systemic racism in wake of Jacob Blake shooting

By KYW Newsradio 1060

UPDATE: 6 p.m.

Players for the Phillies and the Nationals have collectively decided to postpone Thursday night's game in Washington, D.C. The Phillies released a statement expressing their support of the "decision to use their platform to call attention to the racial and social injustice that continues to exist in our country. We will continue to stand behind our players and those on the front lines working to generate accountability and real change in our society."

The Flyers game against the Islanders Thursday night is also postponed, as NHL players decided there will be no Stanley Cup playoff games Thursday and Friday.


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In the wake of Jacob Blake — a 29-year-old Black man who was shot by police seven times on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin — there had been rumblings that NBA players were thinking about boycotting postseason action. 

That became a reality on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to take the floor for their game against the Orlando Magic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. 

The Bucks still haven't come out to the court for Game 5 and the Magic have left the court.

— ESPN (@espn) August 26, 2020

Shortly thereafter, the NBA announced its triple-header scheduled for Wednesday — which included the Houston Rockets against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Portland Trail Blazers — was postponed. 

The #NBA announced the postponement of today’s games.

— Dave Uram (@MrUram) August 26, 2020

Bucks players George Hill and Sterling Brown — who sued the city of Milwaukee, its police chief and multiple officers for excessive force in 2018 — read a statement prepared by the team: “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action. So our focus today cannot be on basketball,” Brown said. 

Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks:

— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020

“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable,” Hill said. “We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from lawmakers and law enforcement.”

The Bucks received immediate support within the basketball community. 

Two-time NBA champion and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith wasted no time showing his solidarity by walking off the set of a special edition of “Inside The NBA,” which was taking place in one of the postponed games. 

“As a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight,” Smith said. 

.@TheJetOnTNT stands with the NBA players.

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 26, 2020

Fellow player-turned-broadcaster Chris Webber — who spent a brief time with the 76ers at the end of his All-Star career — eloquently shared his thoughts on the players’ decision.

“It is the young people leading the way and I applaud them.” @realchriswebber delivers a powerful message in support of the NBA players.

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 26, 2020

In addition to the NBA, other professional leagues put their schedules on pause for the day. 

The WNBA announced that the three games scheduled for this evening have been postponed. Information regarding rescheduling of the games will be provided when available.

— WNBA (@WNBA) August 26, 2020

As the WNBA postponed three of its games, reigning champs the Washington Mystics provided a powerful image at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida — where the WNBA is holding its season. They wore T-shirts that spelled out “Jacob Blake” and painted bullet holes on the back. WNBA players took a knee in solidarity. 


— WNBA (@WNBA) August 27, 2020

Never thought I would paint bullet holes on the back of a T-shirt. 7 gunshots in the back. This happened to a human being in real life. A Black Man. How many more? #BlackLivesMatter

— Emma Meesseman (@EmmaMeesseman) August 27, 2020

Three Major League Baseball games were postponed in solidarity. The Milwaukee Brewers followed the basketball team in their city, calling off their game against the Cincinnati Reds. 

Never thought I would paint bullet holes on the back of a T-shirt. 7 gunshots in the back. This happened to a human being in real life. A Black Man. How many more? #BlackLivesMatter

— Emma Meesseman (@EmmaMeesseman) August 27, 2020

“The most impactful thing we could do was not play our baseball game,” Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun said. “To not distract from what’s going on in the country, we felt like baseball wasn’t significant relative to the issues that we all continue to see and that we are disturbed by.”

Ryan Braun: "The most impactful thing we could do is not play our baseball game and to not distract from what's going on in the country."#Brewers

— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) August 27, 2020

“There comes a time where you have to live it, you have to step up,” Brewers star Christian Yelich said. “You just can’t wear these shirts and think that’s all well and good, and then when it comes time to act on it or make a stand or make a statement, you can’t just not do it.”

"There comes a time where you have to step up. You can't just wear these shirts and think that's all well and good." - @ChristianYelich

— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) August 27, 2020

Other postponed games include the Seattle Mariners against the San Diego Padres, and the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants. 

“For me, I think no matter what, I wasn’t going to play tonight just because I have to just stand by my guns here,” Dodgers star Mookie Betts said. “Like (manager Dave Roberts) said, there’s a lot going on in the world and change needs to be made, and I have to use my platform to at least get the ball rolling. I talked to my teammates and told them how I felt, and they all were by my side.” 

New York Mets left fielder and first baseman Dom Smith played in the Mets 5-4 win over the Marlins, but he took a knee during the national anthem. 

Postgame, he was very emotional and admitted it was a tough day for him. 

“For this to just continuously happen, it just shows just the hate in people’s heart and that just sucks, and being a Black man in America is not easy,” he said.

"I think the most difficult part is to see people still don't care"- An emotional Dom Smith describes the most of difficult part of the last few months for him

— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020

Other players throughout the league chose not to play, even though their teams went through with their games. 

The Phillies played their game against the Washington Nationals, which started at 6:05 p.m. The news about the Milwaukee Bucks started circulating around 4 p.m., and the NBA officially announced the postponements about an hour later. 

Bryce Harper said postgame, he didn’t have much information on the developments that were happening throughout pro sports. 

“When I get to the field, I don’t really check my phone or anything like that,” Harper said after beating Washington 3-2. “We didn’t really talk about it much as a team, so I’m really not such what’s going on and what’s going to happen (Thursday) and so forth.” 

“I would tell them to go with their heart,” manager Joe Girardi said regarding what his players should do if a similar situation arose in Philadelphia. “Feelings are feelings. They’re never right or wrong. They’re just feelings, and you gotta go with your heart. … I would support them whatever they did.” 

The National Hockey League did not postpone any of its playoff action Wednesday. The Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba and San Jose Sharks' Evander Kane would like the league to improve how it reacts to racial injustice.

It's evident neither player liked the league's response to the Blake shooting.

"NHL, we're always last to the party especially on these topics"Founding member of @TheOfficialHDA Matt Dumba joined #TheProgram @AndrewWalker650 @SatiarShah to share his thoughts on the protests in sports today.SOUND ON --Full Interview here:

— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) August 27, 2020

Actually it’s incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey the lack of action and acknowledgement from the @nhl, just straight up insulting.

— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) August 27, 2020

The Flyers postseason game against the Islanders started shortly after 3 p.m. and was well underway when the Bucks news started making the rounds. Afterward, head coach Alain Vigneault and forward Kevin Hayes were not privy to what had happened in the NBA. 

Major League Soccer didn’t play five of its six matches on Wednesday. 

Two-time major tennis champion Naomi Osaka tweeted she wasn’t going to play in her semifinal match of the Western and Southern Open taking place in Flushing, New York. The tournament subsequently paused Thursday’s matches.

— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 27, 2020

Some NFL teams, as of Thursday morning, have announced they’re not practicing on Thursday. The Eagles are discussing what to do next.

I’m told Eagles are planning to practice today and continue social justice discussions today and tomorrow

— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) August 27, 2020

The NBA plans to resume games on Thursday