Nike expressed its support for professional athletes in the NBA and WNBA on Thursday as players failed to take the court for their games in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin.
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Nike’s statement came a day after the players’ strike and hours after multiple reports said that NBA players agreed to continue the playoffs but postpone Thursday’s slate of games.
“Nike stands in support of NBA and WNBA players and athletes across the sports community in their response to the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake,” the statement read.
“We remain committed to addressing the issue of systemic racism experienced by the Black community.”
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to lead the strike after not showing up to the court against the Orlando Magic.
The Bucks released a joint statement after their decision sent shockwaves through the sports world.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement,” the joint statement read in part.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
Some MLB games and WNBA games were also postponed in the wake of the Bucks’ decision.
Nike had not exactly been in favor of player protests in the past. The New York Times reported in 2018 that the company wasn't exactly keen on keeping Colin Kaepernick as one of its athletes because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem in 2016.
After a heated conversation in 2017, Nike reportedly decided keeping the quarterback was a "risk worth taking." Since then, Kaepernick and his initiatives have been pushed by the company and he's had a say in the design of actual products.