NBA teams to hold talks after more play-off games are postponed in protest

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NBA play-off teams are poised to discuss the competition’s next steps after matches were postponed for a second successive day following protests against perceived racial injustice.

A series of major sporting events in the United States were initially called off on Wednesday after athletes spoke out in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

Thursday’s basketball matches between the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets, the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics, and the LA Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks have since followed suit, while three WNBA fixtures have also been postponed.

The NBA hopes for action to resume on either Friday or Saturday as it prepares to hold a video meeting later on Thursday, which will be attended by representatives from the 13 teams remaining in the end-of-season play-offs being staged in Florida.

NBA executive vice-president Mike Bass said in a statement: “NBA play-off games for today will not be played as scheduled. We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday.

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“There is a video conference call meeting scheduled later this afternoon 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.”

Meanwhile, former world number one tennis player Naomi Osaka appears to have reversed her decision to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open in New York.

The 22-year-old initially dropped out of her semi-final against Elise Mertens, saying “before I am an athlete, I am a black woman”.

But the WTA has confirmed the two-time grand slam champion will return to the tournament – which was paused on Thursday – and she has been included in Friday’s order of play.

Widespread disruption to US sport began on Wednesday after players responded to Sunday’s shooting of African-American Blake and the civil unrest which has followed.

Blake was shot on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, apparently in the back. The incident was captured on phone video, igniting new protests over racial injustice in several US cities.

Wisconsin team the Milwaukee Bucks – based around 40 miles from Kenosha – took the initiative, boycotting their play-off game against the Orlando Magic.

In all, three NBA play-off games, three Major League Baseball matches, three WNBA fixtures and five Major League Soccer games were postponed on Wednesday.

Play-off matches are being played in a bubble in Orlando, Florida after the coronavirus pandemic caused them to be rescheduled.

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