By Tim Stannard
NBA players and board to decide on next steps as tennis authorities scrub planned matches on Thursday
Wednesday evening was set to be a busy one for sport in the United States.
The NBA was set to play three key playoff games at its bubble in Florida including the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Orlando Magic in what could have been a clinching match for the Bucks. The WNBA had three games on the schedule.
MLB had three regular season games planned while MLS had five matches lined up.
None of them took place as major sports leagues in the US took at stand to support social justice.
A day of sporting protest began when the Milwaukee Bucks players called off their game against the Orlando Magic in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
A statement from the Bucks, based just 20 miles away from the scene of three days of protests, declared that "despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball." It was a continuation of a policy from the NBA's players who have seen the season's restart as a means to promote social justice causes as well as complete the disrupted campaign.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
Other sports and franchises followed suit throughout Wednesday. The day's two remaining NBA games were postponed, while the WNBA scrubbed its program for the day.
MLB pulled three planned matches, including the Milwaukee Brewers against the Cincinnati Reds. "With our community and our nation in such pain, we wanted to draw as much attention to the issues that really matter, especially racial injustice and systemic oppression," said a statement from the Brewers.
In tennis, Naomi Osaka withdrew from Thursday's semifinal clash in Western and Southern Open in New York, saying that "as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis."
The ATP and WTA subsequently took the decision to pause all play in the US Open warm-up tournament on Thursday, with competition resuming on Friday.
A decision on how to progress with the NBA playoffs will be taken later on Thursday after a series of meetings with the NBA board and players. Two Game 6 matches were scheduled for Thursday including the LA Clippers taking on the Dallas Mavericks.
However, there was one major North American league that did continue on Wednesday. The NHL played its playoff games in its Canadian bubbles but did have a "moment of reflection."
Mane linked with Barcelona move in Koeman reunion
Thursday sees Lionel Messi still as a Barcelona player two days after declaring his intention to his bosses to leave the Camp Nou after nearly twenty years.
So far the situation is a stalemate with the focus being on Messi's contract and whether the player's exit clause at the end of May was date-specific or referred to the end of Barcelona's season which completed in August.
While the situation drags on, Messi is expected to be at the Camp Nou on Sunday for medical checks and continue training as normal.
The focus has also moved on to Barcelona's life post Messi (and Luis Suarez) and how the squad would look. The French publication L'Equipe is posing that Antoine Griezmann could be the new number nine for the team.
Indeed, there might be more reinforcements up front with speculation that Sadio Mane is being offered to Barcelona, with the Liverpool player stalling on a contract renewal at Anfield on a deal that currently runs to 2023.
One big hook into this rumor is that Mane played under Koeman during a spell at Southampton.
The Sports Burst live show will be bringing the latest on M-Exit and hear from Ray Hudson on another tumultuous week from the Camp Nou. Just head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page and beIN XTRA channel at 12PM ET.