TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis stands in solidarity with players of the Milwaukee Bucks who took a fearless decision to boycott Wednesday’s game against the Orlando Magic in protest of Jacob Blake’s shooting by police officers in Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Bucks’ brazen stance also forced the postponement of two additional games between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers.Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, who were responding to a domestic disturbance. Blake survived the shooting but is now paralysed and unlikely to ever walk again.“I understand the reason why these players and NBA teams have done this. They are more reflective of the reality of what is happening. The majority of basketball players are black Americans. I’ve seen people try to highlight his alleged charge sheet but how could you justify shooting a human being in the manner that Jacob Blake was shot?” questioned Lewis.Prior to Bucks’ official decision to boycott, the players chose to remain in their locker room and not take part in their usual on-court warm-up. At the time, some Orlando Magic players were on-court but left with just under four minutes before game time.After their decision to stay away, ESPN senior NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski reported that NBA officials were outside the Bucks’ locker room, yet to enter.According to him, via Twitter, “The NBA, owners and front offices didn’t see this wave of player boycotts coming today. Hours ago, they all expected to be playing these games tonight (Wednesday). This is a pivot point for the NBA and professional sports in North America.”Hours later, all NBA players were invited to join a meeting in The Bubble (isolation zone at Walt Disney World) to discuss how they’ll proceed from Wednesday’s boycotts.Wojnarowski also stated that the Bucks were inside the locker room on a conference call with Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.Milwaukee Bucks owners then issued a statement in support of their players’ spontaneous decision to boycott the game.A worker removes the balls from the court after the Milwaukee Bucks decided to sit out Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff series, on Wednesday, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to protest the shooting of Black man in Wisconsin. via AP -“We fully support our players and the decision they made. Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”Lewis agreed with the NBA’s postponement of the three games and believes other sporting disciplines may follow suit in protest of Blake’s shooting.“How can a basketball player go out and play and entertain people as if it’s business as usual? I expect it’s going to challenge other sports. Colin Kaepernick sacrificed his career by taking a stand against these very things and now more than ever, the people who criticised and condemned him, including the NFL, are now understanding,” he added.Following the shooting death of George Floyd and a surge in protests from the Black Lives Matter Movement in May, the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees president has been vociferous in his support of their cause.He has since called on the IOC to lift the lifetime ban imposed of former American Olympic track and field medallists Vince Matthews and Wayne Collett and hailed the longevity of this ban for over four decades as “unconscious bias”.Although the IOC has allowed discussions to begin on amending Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which states – No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas – he remains firm in his stance that the IOC must first acknowledge the fact that this decree was built on the pillars of racial discrimination and inequality by then-president Avery Brundage.“The IOC’s use of due process to evade a necessary conversation on racism, racial discrimination and inequalities in sport, Rule 50 and banning protests against social injustice is just a different way of trying to sweep it under the carpet. But it’s a reality.“I hope the IOC and all the supporters of the approach and the Olympic Movement who do as if Black Lives Matter is not as important as All Lives Matter, I hope they saw the video!” he exclaimed.In conclusion, the TTOC president affirmed that as long as people live in denial, systemic racism and racial discrimination and inequality is rationalized and justified, it’s going to continue. If those who are not brave or care enough to lend their voices and to support and take a stand, racism will linger.He closed, “As long as organisations as the IOC and Olympic Movement are comfortable doing as if Black Lives Matter is a black and coloured people thing, and not an all people thing, it’s going to continue.As long as they want to have a discussion about Rule 50 and not one about Brundage, who was a fascist and racist, and that Rule 50 was established to suppress protest of social injustice, as long as we’re prepared to rationalize that away, as long as Matthews’ and Collett’s life ban remains in place and is not rescinded, as long as powerful voices in sport and the Olympic Movement remain silent and complicit, it will continue.”