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NBA intends to resume playoffs in coming days after walkout over Jacob Blake shooting

More playoff games were postponed Thursday, but action is expected to resume Friday or Saturday, league officials said.
Markelle Fultz of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket between the Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo during an first-round NBA playoff game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Monday,Ashley Landis / AP file

NBA players are expected to return to the floor this weekend, league officials said Thursday, a day after teams walked out in support of protests against police brutality following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

The NBA announced that three playoff games scheduled for Thursday would be called off before action is expected to resume Friday or Saturday.

The league and its players were still hammering out final details of the latest restart Thursday afternoon, according to a statement by NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he hasn't been following the NBA and doesn't "know too much about the protests."

But he still managed to offer an opinion: "They've become like a political organization, and that's not a good thing. I don't think that's a good thing for sports or for the country."

Earlier Thursday, the NBA rallied in support of protesting players. Officials — living and working inside the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida — donned black T-shirts with the words "Everybody Vs. Racism" outside their Disney hotels.

The referees union said in a statement Thursday that its members were marching "against racism and grieve for the black lives taken too soon."

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

The show of support for players comes despite a fraught relationship between the two groups over the past several years.

Image: NBA referees
NBA referees march in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Thursday in support of players seeking an end to racial injustice.Brian Mahoney / AP

Veteran referee Marc Davis told NBA TV that the march, which included dozens of other NBA staff members, stopped in at a players meeting.

"We basically said to them: 'We're here and we support you. We're here, and we support you and protect your right to speak your truth,'" Davis said.

He added, "We, as the older generation, are going to have to be an agent of change, and we think our group really represents that."

Three major league baseball games, three WNBA contests and five Major League Soccer matches were also called off Wednesday in light of the upheaval over Blake's shooting.

Three more WNBA games set for Thursday were been postponed, the league announced. Five major league baseball games were also delayed.

In a dramatic display at the start of a Mets-Marlins game in New York, the players left their dugouts and removed their hats during a 42-second moment of silence. After the teams left the field, a Black Lives Matter t-shirt could be seen on top of home plate.

The move came one day after Mets first baseman Dom Smith gave an emotional interview about why he took a knee during the national anthem Wednesday. Asked what had been most difficult about the last few months, he said: “I think the most difficult part is that people still don’t care.”

“It just shows that hate in peoples’ heart,” he said. “That just sucks.”

The NHL, which is in the midst of a coronavirus-delayed playoff season, as well, announced that it was delaying games Thursday and Friday.

"We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment," the league said Thursday in a joint statement with the NHL Players' Association. The four playoff games will be rescheduled beginning Saturday.

Earlier, San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, members of the league's Hockey Diversity Alliance, asked the NHL to follow in the NBA's footsteps and call off those games.

The group penned an open letter saying such action would "send a message that human rights must take a priority over sport."

And on the gridiron Thursday, the Chicago Bears, the Arizona Cardinals, the Denver Broncos, the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts, the Washington Football Team, the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets all called off practice in support of protests.

The sports walkouts Wednesday were led by the Milwaukee Bucks, who normally play their home games at Fiserv Forum, almost 40 miles north of where Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer Sunday, officials said.

Viral video of the confrontation appeared to show Blake walking away from police before an officer, identified as seven-year veteran Rusten Sheskey, opened fire from behind at close range.

Blake is paralyzed from the waist down from the shooting, family members and lawyers said.