By deciding not to play Game 5 against the Magic, the Bucks made a loud statement on justice for Jacob Blake, police accountability, police brutality and criminal-justice reform.
The Bucks also ruffled some feathers around the NBA by not sharing their plan beforehand. Other teams felt compelled to follow Milwaukee, and a league-wide strike emerged without clear goals.
Celtics wing Jaylen Brown defended the Bucks.
Not only that, he’s ready for round two if necessary.
Brown, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:
“We all saw the awareness that was raised so, to be honest, I think in hindsight we will appreciate what Milwaukee did,” said Brown. “There’s a lot of guys that came down here for reasons other than basketball, and to use our platforms. Milwaukee did exactly that and, if necessary. it could be done again. Hopefully that won’t be the case but using our platform is why a lot of guys came down here.”
In theory, yes.
In practicality, it will be difficult to get another strike off the ground.
The previous strike happened so quickly that many involved didn’t realize the implications. George Hill was initially the only one with a plan, and it was a solo plan: He alone wouldn’t play. But his Milwaukee teammates joined him, reportedly intending just to forfeit a single game. Then, the rest of the league followed in not playing.
At that point, discussion focused on the same question players faced before resuming the season: Was playing worth it?
Unsurprisingly, players thought yes. So much so, there wasn’t much focus on new concessions. Players decided to end the strike then met with owners and announced tangible gains.
Despite talk of players boycotting the NBA’s resumption at Disney World before it began, 98% of players on continuing teams reported to the bubble. None of the players who chose not to play cited social justice as their primary reason. Even after this latest work stoppage, only one player left the bubble due to social-justice concerns – Magic forward Aaron Gordon, and he was also injured.
There’s just little evidence striking is popular among NBA players when they consider all the ramifications.
Striking technically violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement. With games merely postponed a few days (rather than interrupted more significantly or even canceled), players seemingly won’t directly have their salaries reduced. But that won’t necessarily be true next time.
There are also indirect dangers. As teams enter difficult financial circumstances next season, there is potential for owners to terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement and renegotiate players’ share of salaries. The best reason to predict against that: Players cooperated in this restart, confining themselves away from family and friends on a closed campus, to help the league make money. Owners and players love to describe themselves as “partners” in the league’s revenue production, and players are making a tremendous sacrifice to do their part. But owners might no longer view players as their partners if players keep striking.
So, I’m skeptical another strike will actually happen.
But players will keep talking and demonstrating from the bubble. Those are all helpful ways of affecting change, and the strike amplified those messages.
It’s also good Brown keeps pushing the envelope. This mere threat helps players build power in their push for social justice.