ORLANDO, Fla. – One day after several NBA teams boycotted their games while fighting for racial equality, a person with knowledge of the situation said NBA players decided on Thursday that they want to continue the season.
Also on Thursday, several referees led marches on Disney’s campus, where the NBA is currently holding games, in support of the players’ fight for justice.
The boycotts come amid nationwide protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
UCF professor Dr. Richard Lapchick, who also heads up The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at UCF, told News 6 that Wednesday’s boycott was one of the more historic actions in decades for sports.
“Probably the only parallel I can think of as far as use of sports for social justice issues was when Tommie Smith and John Carlos took the victory stand in Mexico City in 1968, and when Muhammad Ali refused to go to Vietnam,” Lapchick said. “I thought it was an incredible historic day.”
Lapchick has pushed for more inclusion over the years and has conducted several racial and gender report cards on sports leagues. He said he’s happy to see what he calls refocused energy on equality.
“We have to look at racism every day because it’s not going to go away. It’s not going to go away in a three-month period of time,” Lapchick said. “I’m virtually protesting with the people in Wisconsin because I can’t get there, but if I was there, I’d be in the streets with them showing my anger and frustration.”
Lapchick said he commends the NBA and the many players for their actions in fighting for equality. He said that reason and others are why he calls the NBA the most progressive sports league in the country.
“My words will be very simple: ’Thank you and I appreciate your courage,’” Lapchick said.