The Milwaukee Bucks restarted a fierce discussion about sports and politics on Wednesday evening after they boycotted their Eastern Conference first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

Their boycott comes in the aftermath of yet another police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Blake is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down.

It would not have been easy for the Wisconsin-based team to have made this decision which will hit the bottom line of broadcasters, the league itself, their team and eventually, the players.

In June, the Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving led a conference call involving 80 players and vehemently argued against the league’s restart once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the United States. His drive was to highlight the plight of Black America as they protested the killing of George Floyd another unarmed black man, murdered by a police officer who had a knee on his neck on a road in Minneapolis.

However, his call against the restart came at a time when the NBA was already on pause because of the coronavirus and a boycott would not have made the same kind of impact it would at this point in time.

Kyrie who is vice president of the National Basketball Players Association was right about one thing, playing games wouldn’t have solved the problems of racial injustice. However, boycotting the league then, wouldn’t have had the same result either.

Quite possibly a more perfect opportunity would have been boycotting the finals, whether it would have been the conference finals or the actual NBA finals. But the recent incidents have brought forward this latest action by the players and it now seems more appropriate to impose their will and send the strongest-possible message.

Let’s also be blunt about another point re Kyrie Irving. His worldwide view hasn’t always been spherical, but this is a different sphere. Any boycott with him as the face or voice would have been met with derision and a huge lack of credibility. And the importance of that moment, that movement and that effort would have been lost. Of course, every voice matters when it comes to the cause of racial equality. However, any charge and any course of action must be strategic, surgical and full of thought. And the messenger must be as solid as the message.

I don’t think the players would have boycotted these games if there was compassion from the current occupant in the White House.

Let’s also be fair, extra-judicial killings of unarmed black people have been going on for a while. And while there was a sense of empathy coming from the previous President of the USA, there now appears to be apathy from the current administration on this matter.

The US elections are in November, and the new NBA season is set to begin December 1. This boycott is poised to strongly push a referendum against President Donald Trump, and it is coming two months before voters go to the polls. This is now strategic.

In a couple of months we will know if it works, but there should be no going back for the players like the NBA announced earlier today. If they are going to risk it… risk it all.

It appears the mindset of the Los Angeles teams is one of the same at the moment as there are reports that both the Lakers and Clippers voted to quit the postseason.

My first article spoke about black athletes being more than their talent, and they should utilize their platforms to speak out in a society which finds it difficult to adapt to a more inclusive way.

Another moment has been introduced to opportunity.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

West Indies captain Jason Holder revealed that he is yet to personally face racist abuse, while on the pitch, but was once shocked at the vitriol directed towards South African cricketer Hashim Amla.

The issue of racial injustice has been at the forefront of global discussion in recent weeks, following the killing of an African American George Floyd by a white police officer.  Derek Chauvin was filmed with his knee on the neck of Floyd for nearly nine minutes in a video that prompted anguish and outrage around the globe.

The issue has morphed into a broader discussion on the need for an end to racial discrimination and inequality, with several athletes joining the cause.  Holder noted that although it was important to be professional, the circumstances can be tough for players to take.

“Look, as a player, you just got to be professional and shut it out, but some comments are such that it’s hard to block out. You know some of those comments sometimes make people retaliate,” Holder said during an Instagram talk with sports commentator Arun Venugopal.

“I haven’t personally had to bear the brunt of any of them, but I have seen things with people like Moeen Ali and Hashim Amla [who were subjected to racist attacks]. I have met Hashim Amla, I have played cricket with Hashim Amla. If you probably think I am a nice man, he is the ultimate nice guy, man. He is the nicest person that I have ever met, swear to God,” Holder added.

“And to hear people get down on Hashim and say things or even bring racial comments into it, it is just sad, man. It’s just sad to see the level of intelligence of people,” he added.

 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has used the example of a multi-ethnic England team, winners of the 2019 World Cup, to make its point about the importance of racial equality and inclusion.

Earlier this week, former West Indies captain Darren Sammy called on the body to make its voice heard in standing up for racial injustice as protests continued to spread across the United States.  The unrest follows the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, by a white police officer.

The Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was recorded kneeling on the neck of Floyd while he was pinned to the floor for several minutes during an arrest.  He went unconscious and later died at the hospital.  Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder.  The protests have, however, ballooned into an international call for an end to racial prejudice with several athletes and federations lending their voices to the cause.

On Friday, the ICC posted a 90-second video clip of the final moments of victory for England with Barbados-born Jofra Archer bowling the thrilling Super Over against New Zealand.  "Without diversity, cricket is nothing. Without diversity, you don't get the full picture," read the message above the video, posted on social media platform Twitter.

The England team that won the competition, in addition to Archer, featured players that had connections to several countries.  Eoin Morgan an Irishman was captain. The best performer was New Zealand born all-rounder Ben Stokes, with the spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid of Pakistani origin.

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has joined the growing list of sporting associations to voice support for ongoing protests in the United States and the overarching call for an end to racial inequality and injustice.

Both peaceful and violent protests have rocked the United States for the last eight days as many across the nation continue to remonstrate about the circumstances that led to the death of George Floyd an unarmed African American man.

Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis cop, was filmed with his knee on the neck of the restrained and pleading Floyd who later went unconscious and was reported dead at the hospital.  Several athletes, including West Indies cricket stars Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle, have joined those voices demanding justice and the organisation threw their support behind the pair and the movement.

   “We join our cricketers, other cricket stakeholders, and all sportsmen, sportswomen, and sports administrators in speaking out against all forms of racism and inequality.  We stand alongside all who are peacefully protesting and championing this cause,” the release read.

The West Indies, like the United States, has deep-rooted connections to slavery and colonialism.  A part of the success of early West Indies cricket teams, who became the sport’s dominant force, was built on the fierce desire to prove themselves equal to colonizing powers and those who thought of themselves as racially superior.

“The people of the West Indies have fought many battles of our own on and off the field.  We have been blessed to witness the prowess, determination, and leadership of our cricketing heroes who united the Caribbean and brought great success and pride to our people,” the release continued.

“Our cricketing heroes helped in large measure to pave the way for cricket and our West Indian societies to thrive at home, and generated enjoyment and dignity for the West Indian diaspora abroad while they faced their own experiences of inequality and injustice in their adopted home.”

Big-hitting West Indies star Chris Gayle joined the strong chorus of athlete voices that have come out in condemnation of racial injustice and was quick to point out the fact that he also faces it in the sport of cricket.

 A growing number of athletes have spoken out in support of ongoing protests that have roiled the United States, where the killing of 46-year-old African American George Floyd by a white police officer has struck a raw nerve.

The Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was videoed pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck, ignoring the desperate pleas that he was unable to breathe.  Floyd went unconscious at the scene and was later pronounced dead at hospital.   Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder, but protests have boiled over to encompasses a global demand for an end to racial injustice and discrimination.  

In his Instagram post, which conveyed visible frustration, Gayle pointed to the issue of racism in cricket.

“I have travelled the globe and experienced racial remarks towards me because I am black, believe me, the list goes on,” Gayle said on Monday.

“Racism is not only in football, it’s in cricket too. Even within teams as a black man, I get the end of the stick. Black and powerful. Black and proud,” he said.

“Black lives matter just like any other life. Black people matter, p***k all racist people, stop taking black people for fools, even our own black people wise the p***k up and stop bringing down your own!,” Gayle wrote.

 

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other cricket governing bodies to let their voices be heard in standing up against racial injustice.

In recent days, both violent and peaceful protests have swept across the United States as citizens demand justice for the killing of George Floyd.  Floyd, an African American male in his 40s, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was recorded kneeling on his neck while he was pinned to the floor for several minutes during an arrest.

According to reports, police had been called to the scene after a convenience store clerk alerted the authorities regarding what he suspected to be a counterfeit $20 bill used by Floyd to purchase a pack of cigarettes.  Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder but protests have continued to boil over as the issue has sparked a larger debate regarding the deep-seated issue of racial injustice.

Many athletes around the world, spanning several generations, have not been shy in making their thoughts known on the issue.  The long list includes NBA greats Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lebron James, and rising tennis star Coco Gauff.  In the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi displayed “Justice for George Floyd messages” scrawled on t-shirts hidden beneath their jerseys after scoring.  Schalke’s 21-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Monchengladbach’s 22-year-old French forward Marcus Thuram also displayed support for the movement.

Closer home the ICC T20 World Cup-winning captain believes things have been too quiet and called on officials to add their voices to the mix.

“@ICC and all other boards are you guys not seeing what’s happening to people like me? Are you not gonna speak against the social injustice against my kind…” Sammy said in a series of tweets.

“Now is not the time to be silent.  I wanna hear u.”

Joining Sammy in speaking out was West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle who also posted a message on social media that advocated for black lives to be considered as important as any other life.

“Black life matters just as any other life,” Gayle’s statement read.

“Even within teams as a Black man, I get the end of the stick.”

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