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The Sports Report: NBA players refuse to play to protest Jacob Blake shooting

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James looks on before Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series.
LeBron James before Game 4 on Monday.
(Kim Klement / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Tania Ganguli on the Lakers: The Lakers joined the rest of the league in deciding not to play their scheduled game Wednesday.

The movement began Wednesday afternoon when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic, in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot in the back multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wis., while investigating a domestic violence call.

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“[EXPLETIVE] THIS MAN!!!!” LeBron James wrote on Twitter. “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT”

Until Wednesday, the Lakers had said they planned to continue playing games, in part because they felt committed.

Asked about Bucks guard George Hill saying Monday that the league should not have come to Orlando, neither James nor Kyle Kuzma agreed with the sentiment Tuesday. Both of them spoke about Blake’s shooting, though. Kuzma began his postgame news conference with a message to Blake’s family that NBA players would not stop fighting for justice for him. James spoke passionately about the relationship of Black people to police.

The Lakers were scheduled to play Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, which they lead 3-1.

The NBA announced all games were postponed, not canceled, but had not announced a plan to reschedule them.

Lakers co-owner and governor Jeanie Buss released a statement on the situation:

“I was excited to see us play — and hopefully close out our series — tonight. But I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough. #JusticeForJacobBlake #WeHearYou”

The move is driven by players. The Lakers held a players-only meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

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———

Dylan Hernandez: The Bucks, and other athletes, made the correct agonizing decision

NBA postpones games in response to Jacob Blake shooting: How we got here

NBA players boycott? Why ‘boycott’ is not the correct term

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How players, teams and others reacted on social media to today’s protest by Bucks

Lakers-Trail Blazers schedule

Game 1: Portland 100, Lakers 93
Game 2: Lakers 111, Portland 88
Game 3: Lakers 116, Portland 108
Game 4: Lakers 135, Portland 115
Game 5: Postponed
Game 6*, Friday, TBD
Game 7*, Sunday, TBD

*-if necessary

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Mookie Betts reported for work at Oracle Park on Wednesday with plans to lead off and play right field for the Dodgers. Then he began having conversations with family members. They texted back and forth about the other professional athletes protesting racial injustice and police brutality following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis. He thought about his role as one of the most prominent Black figures in the major leagues. He changed his mind.

“In my shoes,” Betts said, “I couldn’t play.”

Betts said he would’ve supported his teammates proceeding to hold the second of their three-game series against the divisional rivals. He said he would’ve been on the dugout steps cheering them on. But once they heard Betts, their best player and already a clubhouse leader in his short time as a Dodger, decided to sit out, they held discussions as a team about showing solidarity and protesting.

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Eventually, in conjunction with the Giants, a decision was made: We’re not playing. The game was then officially postponed. The clubs will make the game up Thursday with a doubleheader. Both games are scheduled for seven innings each.

“Mookie was great about saying, ‘If you guys want to play, I support that,’” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. “But we made a collective group decision to not play tonight, to let our voices be heard for standing up for what we believe is right,” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

Kershaw was supposed to start Wednesday night. Instead, at the time of the game’s scheduled 6:45 p.m. first pitch, he was flanked by Betts, manager Dave Roberts, and closer Kenley Jansen in front of a webcam. The four represented the Dodgers in explaining their decision to protest and not play.

“Black athletes right now to make a stand and choose not to play tonight is one thing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But Black people been fighting this fight for centuries. And for the white brothers to come in and support the Black men in this game, it’s much more powerful.”

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The Dodgers-Giants game was the third major-league game postponed out of protest Wednesday. The Milwaukee Brewers, who play their games 35 miles from Kenosha, initiated the protests in baseball. They voted not to play their game against the Cincinnati Reds and the Reds agreed. Later, the Seattle Mariners voted to take the field against the San Diego Padres and the Padres didn’t object.

SPARKS

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Sparks: Washington Mystics players linked arms and knelt in white T-shirts that spelled Jacob Blake’s name in black marker, one letter on each player’s chest. On their backs were seven bloody bullet holes, one for each shot police officers fired at Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

The Mystics’ shirts sent a poignant message Wednesday as the WNBA postponed its three scheduled games after players refused to participate, following a similar decision hours before by NBA players who walked out of their three playoff games in protest.

After a long discussion, the four teams that arrived at the arena in Bradenton, Fla., for games scheduled to tip off at 4 and 5 p.m. PDT — the Mystics, the Atlanta Dream, the Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx — used a national TV slot on ESPN2 to demonstrate their unity in the face of what they perceive as racial injustice. Players, coaches and support staff members linked arms and knelt at midcourt. Mystics forward Tianna Hawkins’ 6-year-old son Emmanuel knelt next to his mother.

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“We got this little guy here that we see every day,” Mystics guard Ariel Atkins said during an interview on ESPN2 with her teammates and Emmanuel standing behind her. “His life matters. … That’s what people need to understand. We’re not just basketball players. If you think we are, then don’t watch us.”

CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: No decision has been made about Thursday’s slate of playoff games. The Clippers are one victory from winning their series against the Dallas Mavericks.

“I am angry over the shooting of a black man #JacobBlake @DocRivers and The @Bucks players said it well We need real police accountability,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer posted to Twitter late Wednesday. “Give citizens data to do so. Let’s have criminal justice reform that keeps all people safe but not senselessly imprisoned or afraid.

“Now is the time to research and vote for the mayors, council people, commissioners, legislators, governors, judges, prosecutors, and attorneys general who can make it happen. Now is the time to workout a bipartisan national police reform starting with the bill from @RepKaren Bass.”

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Should the series resume, the Mavericks remain unclear whether center Kristaps Porzingis, who has a sore right knee, will be healthy enough to play.

Clippers-Mavericks schedule

Game 1: Clippers 118, Dallas 110
Game 2: Dallas 127, Clippers 114
Game 3: Clippers 130, Dallas 122
Game 4: Dallas 135, Clippers 133 (OT)
Game 5: Clippers 154, Dallas 111
Game 6: Tonight, 6 p.m., Fox Sports PT, ESPN, KEIB 1150
Game 7*: Saturday, TBD, Fox Sports PT, TNT, KEIB 1150

*-if necessary

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MLS

Kevin Baxter on MLS: Before the opening game of the MLS Is Back tournament in Florida last month, more than 100 of the league’s Black players surrounded the pitch, raised their right fists and knelt on one knee in a choreographed show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

It was a powerful statement. And it was one that put commissioner Don Garber in a difficult position Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott their game with the Orlando Magic in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, in Kenosha, Wis. Within hours the NBA had halted the rest of its playoff schedule, six Major League Baseball teams decided not to play their games and three WNBA games were called off.

MLS, meanwhile, issued a two-paragraph statement that condemned racism but made no mention of games being canceled. So the league’s players took matters in their own hands, banding together and forcing five of Wednesday’s six matches to be postponed.

A half hour after players left the field in Ft. Lauderdale, effectively canceling Inter Miami’s game with Atlanta United, MLS released a second statement in which it took credit for calling off the games.

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Among the games postponed was LAFC’s first regular-season road game at Real Salt Lake and the Galaxy’s first home game in more than five months against the Seattle Sounders.

“We realized we had a real opportunity to join [the NBA] in this fight and show true solidarity among all the sports in the United States,” LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said in a television interview. “We had a conversation amongst the players in the league and we wanted to make sure that everyone was onboard and understood the importance of doing something like this.”

Kaye said the LAFC players had decided not to play before arriving at the stadium for Wednesday’s road game with Real Salt Lake. Kaye then met with RSL’s Nedum Onuoha and Zac MacMath to work out the particulars.

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: He is in line for a historic contract extension, but Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is not waiting to make significant charitable contributions.

Ramsey on Wednesday pledged a $1-million donation to Purpose Preparatory Academy, a kindergarten-fourth grade school in Nashville, where he grew up.

“I chose to support Purpose Prep because it is important for every child to have the opportunity to receive a great education, and the Purpose Prep programs are designed for underprivileged children in my hometown to have access to those services,” Ramsey said in a statement released through Athletes First, his agent firm. “I believe in its mission and want to help level the playing field since a solid elementary education is the foundation to a successful future.”

USC SPORTS

Ryan Kartje on USC sports: Over 654 tests conducted since mid-July, USC had largely managed to mitigate the novel coronavirus from infiltrating its athletics workouts. While other programs across the country were shut down on account of the virus, USC recorded just one positive case between July 18 and Aug. 21, from a student who had yet to set foot on campus.

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But that bubble burst on Wednesday, when eight athletes in football and men’s water polo tested positive for COVID-19, forcing USC to pause workouts in both sports until at least Monday.

The sudden influx of cases did little to damage the department’s confidence in its virus safety protocols. In a statement, athletic director Mike Bohn noted that USC has “effective mitigation strategies in place” and were choosing to pause workouts “out of an abundance of caution.” The cases had been contracted off-campus, USC said. Any chance of future exposure was “very low.”

Still, the sudden shutdown was a reminder of the razor-thin room for error with COVID-19 on college campuses, even in California, where workouts remain outdoors and noncontact.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

First round (all games in Orlando, Fla.)
All times Pacific

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Utah Jazz

Game 1: Denver 135, Utah 125 (OT)
Game 2: Utah 124, Denver 105
Game 3: Utah 124, Denver 87
Game 4: Utah 129, Denver 127
Game 5: Denver 117, Utah 107
Game 6: Today, 1 p.m., ESPN
Game 7*: Saturday, TBD, TNT

No. 4 Houston Rockets vs. No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder

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Game 1: Houston 123, Oklahoma City 108
Game 2: Houston 111, Oklahoma City 98
Game 3: Oklahoma City 119, Houston 107
Game 4: Oklahoma City 117, Houston 114
Game 5: Postponed
Game 6: Friday, 3:30 p.m., TNT
Game 7*: Sunday, TBD, TBD

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 8 Orlando Magic

Game 1: Orlando 122, Milwaukee 110
Game 2: Milwaukee 111, Orlando 96
Game 3: Milwaukee 121, Orlando 107
Game 4: Milwaukee 121, Orlando 106
Game 5: Postponed
Game 6*: Friday, 1 p.m., NBATV
Game 7*: Sunday, TBD, TBD

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SECOND ROUND
EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 Toronto vs. No. 3 Boston Celtics

Game 1: Today, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: Saturday, TBD
Game 3: Monday, TBD
Game 4: Wed. Sept. 2, TBD
Game 5:* Fri. Sept. 4, TBD
Game 6*: Sun. Sept. 6, TBD
Game 7*: Tue. Sept. 8, TBD

* – If necessary

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NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE


Second round
All times Pacific
Eastern Conference, all games in Toronto

No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 6 New York Islanders

Game 1: NY Islanders 4, Philadelphia 0
Game 2: Philadelphia 4, NY Islanders 3 (OT)
Game 3: Thursday, 4 p.m., NBCSN
Game 4: Saturday, 9 a.m., NBC
Game 5*: Monday, TBD
Game 6*: Wednesday, TBD
Game 7*: Thur., Sept. 3, TBD

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 Boston Bruins

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Game 1: Boston 3, Tampa Bay 2
Game 2: Tampa Bay 4, Boston 3 (OT)
Game 3: Tampa Bay 7, Boston 1
Game 4: Friday, 4:30 p.m., USA
Game 5: Sunday, TBD
Game 6*: Tuesday, TBD
Game 7*: Wednesday, TBD

Western Conference, all games in Edmonton

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

Game 1: Vegas 5, Vancouver 0
Game 2: Vancouver 5, Vegas 2
Game 3: Thursday, 6:45 p.m., NBCSN
Game 4: Saturday, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 5: Monday, TBD
Game 6*: Tuesday, TBD
Game 7*: Thursday, Sept. 3, TBD

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No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars

Game 1: Dallas 5, Colorado 3
Game 2: Dallas 5, Colorado 2
Game 3: late
Game 4: Friday, 7 p.m., NBCSN
Game 5*: Sunday, TBD
Game 6*: Monday, TBD
Game 7*: Wednesday, TBD

*-if necessary

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

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Clippers vs. Dallas, 6 p.m., Fox Sports PT, ESPN, KEIB 1150

Dodgers at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Dodgers at San Francisco, 30 minutes after end of Game 1, Sportsnet LA, AM 570

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1884 — Richard Sears beats Howard Taylor, 6-0, 1-6, 6-0, 6-2 to win his fourth straight U.S. men’s national tennis championship.

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1903 — Britain’s Hugh Doherty is the first non-American to win the men’s singles title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association championships with a 6-0, 6-3, 10-8 victory over the William Larned.

1909 — William Larned wins his fifth U.S. men’s singles tennis title with a five-set victory over William Clothier in Newport, R.I.

1928 — Helen Wills beats Helen Hull Jacobs to take the fifth women’s singles title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association championships. Wills needs only 33 minutes, defeating Jacobs 6-2, 6-1.

1957 — Hickory Smoke, driven by John Simpson, Jr., wins the Hambletonian Stakes after taking the fifth and deciding heat.

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1969 — Lindy’s Pride, driven by Howard Beissinger, wins the Hambletonian Stakes in straight heats.

1975 — Onny Parun of New Zealand defeats Stan Smith 6-4, 6-2, in the first night match ever played at the U.S. Open. A crowd of 4,949 saw the match at the West Side Tennis Club.

1976 — Transexual Renee Richards, formerly Richard Raskind, is barred from competing at the U.S. Open tennis championships after refusing to submit to a chromosome qualification test.

1978 — The New York Cosmos beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-1 to win the NASL Championship.

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1985 — Mary Joe Fernandez, at the age of 14 years and eight days, becomes the youngest player to win a match at the U.S. Open. Fernandez beats Britain’s Sara Gomer 6-1, 6-4.

1996 — Stefan Edberg stuns Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek at the U.S. Open, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in his record 54th straight and final Grand Slam event.

1999 — Maurice Greene and Inger Miller win the 200-meter dashes at the World Championships, giving the United States a sweep of the short sprints. Greene is the first sprinter to win the 100 and 200 at a major global meet since Carl Lewis swept both at the 1984 Olympics.

2006 — Marco Andretti, 19, becomes the youngest winner of a major open-wheel event, beating Dario Franchitti by 0.66 seconds to take the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

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2015 — Jamaican Usain Bolt wins his fourth successive 200-meter title at the World Championships in Beijing. Bolt’s time of 19.55 seconds is the 10th fastest ever and his best for three years. Justin Gatlin finishes second in 19.74.

2018 — Simona Halep makes a quick-as-can-be exit from the U.S. Open, becoming the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose her opening match at the Grand Slam tournament in the half-century of the professional era. Halep is overwhelmed by the power-based game of 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-4 in a match that is stunningly lopsided and lasted all of 76 minutes.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Herman Munster tries out for the Dodgers. Watch it here.

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Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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