NBA playoffs will resume, though Thursday’s games are postponed; Jazz, Nuggets may play Game 6 Sunday

(Ashley Landis | AP) A Black Lives Matter banner hangs outside of the arena after a postponed NBA basketball first round playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The game was postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks didn't take the floor in protest against racial injustice and the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In a Thursday morning meeting among members of the National Basketball Players Association, it was decided that the 2020 NBA playoffs will continue, according to multiple reports.

Thursday’s three scheduled games — including Game 6 between the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets — were all postponed, though, the NBA announced in an afternoon statement.

The conclusion of the league’s postseason was thought to be in jeopardy Wednesday, when the Milwaukee Bucks declined to take the court for their game against the Orlando Magic in protest of ongoing racial injustice, with the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake by a Wisconsin police officer the latest example.

All three of Wednesday’s games were subsequently postponed.

In a players’ meeting later that night, players from the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers reportedly voted to discontinue all remaining games and leave the NBA bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. All other teams present voted to continue playing, and the meeting adjourned with no firm resolution on how to proceed.

It appears that resolution was found Thursday morning.

Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported that after Wednesday night’s meeting was fraught with emotions running high already due to Blake’s shooting, and tensions rising further over a lack of a unified plan among the players, they decided to reconvene Thursday morning, hoping that a night of sleep would lead to rational discussion.

Haynes said that appeared to be the case, as an approximately hourlong meeting at Disney’s Corona Springs Resort on Thursday morning featured several prominent players apparently changing their minds about playing, with LeBron James — one of Wednesday’s most vocal supporters for cancellation — suggesting “it was in the best interest of the players to finish what they started.”

The NBA’s statement noted a video conference call would take place later Thursday “between a group of NBA players and team governors representing the 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association and the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan to discuss next steps.”

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that meeting featured two player representatives per team, and that the “focus of this meeting will be formulating action plans to address racial injustice issues as well as ironing out details of restarting playoffs.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that “players challenged owners to be proactive, not reactive, to social justice changes; create actions, not simply financial commitments.”

The league’s owners have already done that, after all. When talk of ending the coronavirus pandemic-induced hiatus began ramping up, and many players expressed some unwillingness to leave behind their communities as nationwide protests took place due to George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer, the ownership group collectively pledged to donate a combined $300 million to social-justice causes and spurring economic growth in Black communities over a 10-year period.

However, many players are now said to be of the opinion that a commitment of financial resources is not sufficient in and of itself. Some players expressed concern in the run-up to the restart that playing basketball games would detract from the ongoing conversation from topics of racial justice and police reform, and former player-turned-analyst Jalen Rose acknowledged on ESPN on Thursday evening that, indeed, such conversations had “gotten stale,” players’ statements too often relegated to soundbites while the majority of the attention had gone to discussing the players’ exploits and to the games themselves at the expense of those issues.

And so, players are now looking for ways that owners can help them continue to promote causes and effect actual change — with Bucks owner Marc Lasry and senior vice president Alex Lasry facilitating access Wednesday to Wisconsin lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes and attorney general Josh Kaul serving as an example.

In the meantime, the league’s statement said it is “hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday.” However, no official schedule was released, and several reports have emerged that the players and the league are effectively targeting a Saturday restart, and that every game postponed before then will effectively be pushed back three days. That would put Game 6 of Jazz vs. Nuggets on Sunday.

Other sports again joined with the NBA in shutting down games, matches or practices. The WNBA postponed its three scheduled games, and the NHL postponed a pair of playoff contests. The Western & Southern Open tennis tournament delayed its matches for a day after women’s semifinalist Naomi Osaka declined to play in her semifinal matchup. Nine NFL teams canceled previously scheduled practice sessions, while at least five MLB games have been postponed.