According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, both the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have elected to boycott Game 5 of their playoff series, as the two teams are currently sitting at 2-2 heading into Wednesday evening’s contest.
Decision made. Thunder and Rockets are boycotting Game 5, sources said. https://t.co/SCNAjsQYea
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 26, 2020
The Bucks’ boycott is in protest of the shooting of Kenosha, Wisconsin man Jacob Blake, who was shot several times by police last weekend after he reportedly attempted to help settle an argument.
Buildup to the Boycott
The decision by the Bucks and then by the Rockets and Thunder comes after their was interior discussion by the Milwaukee team to leave the bubble to return back north in response to the shooting.
This included words from Bucks guard George Hill, who expressed his teammates’ and his personal frustration with the shooting of Blake and their inability to do much in their community while in the Orlando bubble.
“We can’t do anything [from Orlando],” Hill said, per Yahoo Sports. “First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
This eventually led to Milwaukee’s boycott of Game 5, which saw the team refuse to leave the locker room while the Magic took the court for pre-game warmups.
Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook Talk
According to video tweeted out by The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul and Houston star Russell Westbrook met shortly after the Bucks’ decision to boycott, which then showed Westbrook and former teammate and Thunder forward Steven Adams leave the arena.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) August 26, 2020
As NBA on TNT’s Stephanie Ready points out, Paul is the president of the NBA Players’ Union and will have a major say in any decision or action that NBA players make regarding boycotting or protesting.
Chris Paul’s Role in the Bubble
Before the plans for the Orlando bubble were set in stone, there was much discussion and varying opinions on whether the NBA season should happen, and whether or not players should sit out the season.
However, the players’ association and the league were able to come to an agreement and got a season underway in Florida, which prompted many, including former teammate J.J. Redick to compliment the guard.
“I don’t think he gets enough credit for us being here,” said New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick. “His leadership has been amazing. I talked to him a couple weeks ago before we came here. … The thing that really stuck with me was how many hours per day for literally months he was on the phone, on Zoom, talking to people representing himself for the players. He absolutely worked his butt off to make this thing happen. Incredible leadership.”
While Paul was an imperative part of getting the season picked backup, he will also play a similarly important role in how the boycotts and decision-making goes from here.