Wednesday Sports in Brief
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Making their strongest statement yet in the fight against racial injustice, players from six NBA teams decided not to play postseason games on Wednesday in a boycott that quickly reverberated across other professional leagues.
Players made the extraordinary decisions to protest the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday of Jacob Blake, a Black man, apparently in the back while three of his children looked on.
Kenosha is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. That city’s NBA team, the Bucks, started the boycotts Wednesday by refusing to emerge from their locker room to play a playoff game against the Orlando Magic.
“There has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” said Bucks guard Sterling Brown, who joined teammate George Hill in reading a statement on the team’s behalf.
Other games that were not played: NBA playoff games between Oklahoma City and Houston, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland.
The NBA’s board of governors have called a meeting on Thursday to discuss the new developments, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting plan was not revealed publicly.
— By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney & Tim Reynolds.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Portland guard Damian Lillard is leaving the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World for further tests on his injured right knee.
Lillard will leave the bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and return to Portland on Thursday, the Trail Blazers said. He was diagnosed Tuesday with a knee sprain, which occurred in Game 4 of the team’s first-round Western Conference series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The team did not make any mention if the uncertainty over the remainder of the NBA season played a role in Lillard’s decision.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers fired coach Nate McMillan on Wednesday less than three weeks after announcing he would keep the job for two more years.
Team officials made the announcement 48 hours after the Pacers suffered their second straight first-round sweep.
McMillan went 183-136 in four seasons with the Pacers, going to the playoffs each season. But Indiana never reached the second round and endured the first three four-game sweeps in the franchise’s NBA history. His playoff record with the team was just 3-16.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Three Major League Baseball games were postponed Wednesday as players across the sports landscape drove the decisions in the wake of the weekend shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin.
Games between the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco were called off hours before they were set to begin.
Other MLB games had finished, were in progress or just about to start as the announcements were made.
NHL players are discussing options to protest racial injustice after the NBA and other professional sports leagues postponed games, according to a person with knowledge of those talks.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Thursday because those discussions were private. The subject rose to the forefront as multiple leagues called off games and two prominent Black NHL players expressed frustration that the predominantly white league went ahead Wednesday with two games preceded by moments of reflection.
“We really didn’t find out that the other leagues had taken their stance until we got here tonight,” Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said after playing Game 3 of his team’s second-round series against the Boston Bruins. “It was something that I think for us was something we found out by the time we got to the rink and something we’ll have to address going forward.”
MONTREAL (AP) — Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien says he is feeling “100%” after a heart procedure.
Julien had a stent installed in a coronary artery Aug. 13 at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto after complaining of chest pains. The procedure came a day after Montreal opened its first-round playoff series with Philadelphia.
Julien said he didn’t suffer a heart attack and was ready to return to work had the Canadians beaten the Flyers and advanced to the second round.
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — The WNBA postponed its three games Wednesday night following the shooting of Jacob Blake over the weekend.
The move came hours after the NBA decided to postpone its three playoff games with its players choosing to boycott in their strongest statement yet against racial injustice.
In Bradenton, Florida, in the WNBA bubble, Washington was set to play Atlanta, Minnesota was going to face Los Angeles, and Connecticut was going to meet Phoenix. Players from the Mystics, Dream, Sparks and Lynx were talking on the court for about an hour deciding whether to play or not. The decision was announced shortly before the expected 7 pm. EDT tip for the Mystics and Dream.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Post on Wednesday reported additional examples of workplace sexual harassment inside the Washington Football Team organization, along with allegations that owner Dan Snyder was personally involved.
The Post reported a former cheerleader saying Snyder invited her to a hotel room with one of his friends, and that longtime team executive Larry Michael made extra cheerleading videos for the owner showing sensitive material that wasn’t made public. Snyder released a statement denying those specific allegations and saying he was unaware of the incidents until now.
“I want to unequivocally state that this never happened,” Snyder said of the report he invited a cheerleader to a hotel room in 2004.
NEW YORK (AP) — Fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka reached the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday and withdrew a few hours later in a call for racial justice, drawing quick support from other players. Soon after, the whole tournament was put on hold for a day.
“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States. The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, Aug. 27,” the three oganizations said in a statement.
Osaka, the Japanese star and last Top 10 seed in the women’s bracket, joined professional athletes in basketball, baseball and soccer in demanding change after Jacob Blake was shot by police.
Osaka tweeted that as a Black woman, she feels compelled to pull out of the tournament to put a focus on police shooting Black people.
Five Major League Soccer matches were postponed Wednesday night as players made a collective statement against racial injustice.
The action came after all three NBA playoff games were called off in a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Sunday night.
Players from games between Atlanta United and Inter Miami, FC Dallas and Colorado, Portland and San Jose, Real Salt Lake and LAFC, and the LA Galaxy and Seattle all decided not to play in solidarity.
The lone match played was between Orlando City and Nashville SC.
RIDGEDALE, Mo. (AP) — Phil Mickelson closed with a 5-under 66 to reach 22 under, leaving him three shots clear of Tim Petrovic and giving him a wire-to-wire win in his debut on the PGA Tour Champions.
Mickelson became the 20th player to win on the 50-and-over tour in his first start.
He also earned some much-needed confidence after a missed cut at The Northern Trust knocked him from the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Mickelson is trying to fine-tune his game for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Jeff Horn has been encouraged to retire after the former world champion was beaten by Tim Tszyu in a super-welterweight bout.
Three years after beating Manny Pacquiao at a packed Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the Australian said he felt relief Wednesday when the official stopped their bout ahead of the ninth round.
Horn didn’t officially end his career after the loss, but knows it will be difficult for him to convince his wife and two daughters that the best decision is to fight on after his third loss from his last five bouts.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA filed a lawsuit against Under Armour on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for breach of contract, seeking damages in excess of $200 million..
Under Armour announced in late June that it was ending its deal with the university. The two sides were four years into a 15-year deal worth $280 million, which remains the highest in college athletics.
Under Armour paid $11 million per year in rights and marketing fees as well as contributing $2 million per year to aid in facility improvements. Under terms of the contract, the company is supposed to supply $6.85 million in athletic apparel, footwear and uniforms.
LAKE WORTH, Fla. (AP) — Vince Casey, a longtime sports public relations executive who worked for the NFL and in the NHL, has died. He was 78.
Casey died Monday at his home in Lake Worth, Florida after a brief illness, his family confirmed.
Casey retired as the NFL’s director of football information in 2009 after a 16-year career in the league office. He was often cited by journalists for his uncanny skills at uncovering data on even the most obscure topics, usually within moments of a question being asked.
Before joining the NFL, Casey worked for the New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League and the NHL’s New York Rangers.
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