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NBA players agree to resume postseason after protest stoppage

The court remained empty Thursday inside HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla., after the NBA postponed games  for another day in response to protests over the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
The court remained empty Thursday inside HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla., after the NBA postponed games  for another day in response to protests over the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

Aug. 27 (UPI) -- NBA players on Thursday met and agreed to resume the playoffs after six teams refused to play Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., in response to the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

Sources told ESPN and The Athletic that the players plan to resume play as early as Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex inside the Walt Disney World Resort.

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NBA referees showed their support Thursday for the player protest with a march around the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus. They wore black T-shirts with the words "Everybody vs. Racism" printed on them.

"Join us as we unite in the bubble, and around the world, to fight injustice and police brutality," the referees' union said.

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The Milwaukee Bucks began the protest by not taking the floor for Game 5 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series Wednesday inside the NBA's bubble.

Wednesday's Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets game also was postponed, as was the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers nightcap.

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The three playoff games planned for Thursday also have been postponed.

RELATED NBA postpones 3 games after Milwaukee Bucks' boycott over Wis. shooting

The NBA's Wednesday postponements sparked a sports-wide wave of sitouts. Three WNBA, three MLB and five MLS competitions, as well as a series of tennis matches, also were postponed in response to Blake's shooting.

Blake, 29, was airlifted in serious condition to a Milwaukee hospital Sunday after he was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis.

Videos of the incident show officers grabbing Blake by his shirt as he tried to get into a van. An officer then fired seven shots at close range into Blake's back before he slumped over the van's steering wheel.

RELATED Violence again mars protests over Wisconsin police shooting

Social media footage of the sequence has gone viral, and the shooting has sparked unrest and protests throughout Wisconsin and elsewhere. The officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave.

"We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable," Bucks players read in a statement Wednesday.

"For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.

"We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3."

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NFL, tennis stoppages

The New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Washington Football Team announced they would not practice Thursday in response to the sports team protests. The Jacksonville Jaguars delayed the start of their practices and met to discuss social change.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow -- the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft -- shared his thoughts about the unrest Thursday morning on Twitter before the Bengals practiced.

"How can you hear the pain Black people are going through and dismiss it as nothing?" Burrow wrote. "How can you hear the pain and respond with anything other than 'I stand with you.'"

Meanwhile, organizers of the Western & Southern Open announced Wednesday that the tennis tournament was to pause play Thursday as part of the protests.

"As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States," the WTA, ATP Tour and USTA said in a joint statement.

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"The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday. Play will resume on Friday."

The move to pause the tournament came after world No. 10 Naomi Osaka announced she would not play in her scheduled semifinal match Thursday in New York City.

"As a black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis," Osaka said in a statement.

Cori "Coco" Gauff and Sloane Stephens were among the tennis stars to offer support to Osaka on social media after her decision to pull out of the match.

The PGA Tour's BMW Championship teed off Thursday afternoon. The PGA announced Thursday morning that it supports the MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA and WTA protests, but did not postpone the first round at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Ill.

NHL postpones playoff games over next two days

The NHL did not plan to hold any Stanley Cup postseason games Thursday and Friday in solidarity with other leagues protesting the recent police shooting of Blake.

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The decision impacted Thursday night's games -- the New York Islanders versus the Philadelphia Flyers and the Vegas Golden Knights against the Vancouver Canucks -- as well as Friday night's Tampa Bay Lightning-Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche-Dallas Stars matchups.

"After much discussion, NHL players believe that the best course of action would be to take a step back and not play tonight's and tomorrow's games as scheduled," the NHL said in a statement Thursday.

"The NHL supports the players' decision and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday and adjust the remainder of the second round schedule accordingly.

"Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice."

MLB has seven postponements, could have more

Thursday's games between the Oakland Athletics-Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies-Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins-Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox-Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies-Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles-Tampa Bay Rays have been postponed, with possibly more to follow.

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In addition, the New York Mets' game against the Miami Marlins on Thursday night was postponed after both teams held a 42-second moment of silence -- in honor of baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson -- before leaving the field. Friday is Jackie Robinson Day across the sport.

The postponements came after the league had three games scrapped Wednesday as players added their voices to the national protest over the shooting of Blake. But the majority of MLB games remained on the schedule Thursday as the NBA, NHL and WNBA all postponed play.

"On behalf of the more than 100 Black current and former MLB players that make up The Players Alliance, we remain unified by our mission and dedicated to making real, lasting change," The Players Alliance said in a statement Thursday.

"The color of our skin is the uniform we wear every day. We cannot change that. What we can change is the pain and injustice the Black community has suffered for far too long.

"We are determined to use our platform to speak out, and encourage our teammates and fans to help make our voices even louder."

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