Taking a stand: ‘Being a black man in America is not easy’

In a resounding call for reforms in racial justice in America, athletes in at least four different professional sports leagues on Wednesday did more than just wear T-shirts in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

They took the unprecedented action of forcing postponements of games in the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the Women’s National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer.

A top player in the Women’s Tennis Association also said she would withdraw from the Western & Southern Open.

ESPN was reporting that NBA owners and players would meet Thursday morning to determine how to proceed with the playoffs.

Events started to unfold Wednesday afternoon, when the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the floor for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The decision sparked similar actions among athletes in the other sports.

At issue are the deaths this year of African-Americans Ahmaud Arbury in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota. The latest incident involves Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old who was critically wounded Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when an officer shot him at close range.

In a statement, the Bucks called on officials in Wisconsin to address the issue immediately.

“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” Bucks guard and former Spurs player George Hill said, in reading a statement. “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.”

Athletes speaking out included some of the biggest names in sports — namely, LeBron James of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and baseball players Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers.

New York Mets outfielder Dominic Smith was in tears discussing his feelings after he played in a 5-4 victory over the Miami Marlins at New York. Smith kneeled in protest during the national anthem before the game.

“I think the most difficult part is to see that people still don’t care,” Smith said later. “For this kind of thing to continuously happen, it just shows…the hate in people’s hearts. I mean, that just sucks, you know. Being a black man in America is not easy.”

Postponements

NBA — Playoff games, Milwaukee vs. Orlando, Houston-Oklahoma City and Los Angeles Lakers-Portland.

MLB — Regular-season games, Cincinnati at Milwaukee, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco and Seattle at San Diego.

WNBA — Regular-season games, Atlanta-Washington, Los Angeles-Minnesota, Connecticut-Phoenix.

MLS — Inter Miami CF-Atlanta United FC, FC Dallas-Colorado, Real Salt Lake-LAFC, San Jose-Portland, LA Galaxy-Seattle

Women’s Tennis Association — Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Western & Southern Open.

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