This week there has been plenty of news surrounding the boycott of NBA playoff games by players in response to the shooting of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake by local police.
Beginning with the Milwaukee Bucks sitting out Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, leading to the entire league participating in a days-long boycott, the move was unprecedented and has caused quite a bit of commotion among fans, players, and media members, with NBA broadcaster Kenny Smith also participating in a walk-out.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 26, 2020
However, this is not the first time NBA players have participated in a boycott seeking racial justice within the league and elsewhere.
In fact, the first NBA boycott, led by Bill Russell in 1961, has roots right in Lexington, KY.
Russell, who has vocally been in support of the most recent boycott, led a similar movement after fellow Boston Celtics team members Sam Jones and Thomas “Satch” Sanders were refused service in a coffee shop in Lexington before a match between the Celtics and the now-defunct St. Louis Hawks.
A Hawks player, Cleo Hill, was revealed to have suffered the same treatment in Lexington, and before they knew it, a boycott was born. Russell, along with other Black teammates of both the Celtics and Hawks, left the next day.
Hill never played in the NBA again after the protest regarding the game in Lexington, resigning to a fate similar to that of a recent NFL player who you might be familiar with.
With recent protests coming from Kentucky Football, who have the full support of Mark Stoops, and the addition of the recent NBA playoff boycotts, it seems as if sports figures are no longer prepared to be silent.
Bill Russell never was, and salutes those like him who have gotten into “good trouble”. As Josh Paschal pointed out, they are in fact “more than athletes”.
Josh Paschal on negative reaction: "It hurts seeing fans put us down. We're more than athletes. We can have opinions that may not be the same as theirs. I want them to see us as humans. This is a human-rights issue, not a political issue. We should all be united in this fight." https://t.co/bgGpcfy4LD
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) August 27, 2020
Maybe Lexington is a breeding ground for change?