NBA players decide to continue season after boycott over racial injustice

National Basketball Association (NBA) players agreed on Thursday not to boycott the rest of the season after forcing the postponement of a slate of play-off games in a protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

The police shooting of a black man in the Wisconsin town of Kenosha has triggered days of violent unrest and riled US professional sports.

The court stood empty on Wednesday night following the scheduled start of the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic game.Credit:Getty Images

Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the Women's NBA also postponed games on Wednesday, while two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said she was pulling out of a tournament after reaching the semi-finals in support of the protests.

The two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player then changed course. Her agent confirmed that Osaka will face No. 14 Elise Mertens when play resumes at the tournament on Friday with the semi-finals. The finals were shifted from Friday to Saturday.

'Change doesn't happen with just talk'

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, said he planned to reach out to NBA star LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday about the boycott to protest racial injustice.

James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, wrote on Twitter on Thursday: "Change doesn't happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW!"

In an interview with Politico, Kushner suggested that the actions by the players were not productive.

"I think that it's nice that they're standing up for the issue, but I'd like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive," Kushner said.

James, along with other NBA players and coaches, has been critical of Trump in the past. James called him a "bum" in 2017 after the Republican President rescinded an invitation for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors to visit the White House. James accused Trump in 2018 of trying to use sports to divide Americans.

Trump in 2018 questioned James' intelligence.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's Democratic challenger in the November 3 presidential election, and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris – the first black woman on a major-party ticket – praised the actions of the NBA players.

"This moment demands moral leadership. And these players answered by standing up, speaking out, and using their platform for good," Biden wrote on Twitter.

Harris added: "It takes monumental courage to stand up for what you believe in. NBA and WNBA players, keep standing up and demanding change."

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, sounded dismissive toward the NBA players' protests. "I don't know that you're going to see the administration weigh in on that one way or the other. In my mind, it's absurd, it's silly," he told CNN.

Athletes from around the world have united behind anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

Kenosha has been rocked by civil unrest and violence since Sunday, when police shot Jacob Blake, 29, in the back seven times at close range in an incident captured on video. Blake was left paralysed by the shooting and is being treated for his injuries.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Wednesday identified Rusten Sheskey as the white police officer who shot Blake as he opened his car door on Sunday. Blake's three young children were in the car at the time.


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