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After a three-day break brought on by a wildcat strike of NBA players, the playoffs are back on track.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced on Friday that playoff games will resume on Saturday.
NBA’s weekend schedule
Sunday’s games will start at 1 p.m. ET with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
The decision to resume play on Saturday was made at a meeting between NBA executives, players, coaches and owners, and involved the NBA and owners making a number of commitments to players regarding civil engagement and social justice. The statement outlined three specific commitments:
The immediate establishment of a social justice coalition with representatives from the players, coaches, and owners. The coalition will focus on “a broad range of issues” including police and criminal justice reform.
Every arena that is owned and operated by the team will work with local election officials to convert the facility into a polling place for the upcoming 2020 election. If the deadline to do that has passed, the team will work with officials to find a different use for the building to support the 2020 election.
Advertising spots during each playoff game will be dedicated to increasing civil engagement and access to voting.
Commitments a result of direct player action
These commitments from the NBA to expand voting access and work on specific reform issues would not have happened without NBA players taking a stand on Wednesday in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The shooting happened in Kenosha, Wis., and the Milwaukee Bucks were the first to decide to strike and refused to come onto the court for their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic. It spread quickly, and soon all six teams with games on Wednesday were refusing to play. The protests have since spread to MLB and the NHL.
A meeting between the players on Wednesday night was reportedly emotional and sometimes contentious, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers being the only two teams who voted to end the playoffs and leave Orlando to focus on social justice issues. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, both teams walked out of the meeting after the vote, leaving the future of the season in doubt.
Things calmed down on Thursday, with the players reportedly voting to continue the season. That led to a meeting between them, the coaches, and the owners, where they hammered out the specifics of what they wanted the NBA and team owners to do to help increase voting access and advance the cause of police and criminal justice reform.
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