“As a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.”
“Inside The NBA” host Kenny Smith walked off set on Wednesday to show solidarity with the NBA players who boycotted their games to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
“As a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight,” the commentator said before removing his microphone and leaving the studio. “I just don’t feel equipped to be here.”
Ernie Johnson said he respected Smith’s decision. He, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley continued the program without Smith.
The NBA postponed all playoff games on Wednesday night after several teams opted not to play in response to the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The WNBA also canceled all its games Wednesday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks, the team based closest to Kenosha, staged the first walkout for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The decision prompted the cancellation of the Houston Rockets’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Portland Trailblazers.
Several players in the league, including LeBron James, voiced their support of the walkout and demanded change.
After the NBA boycott, the Milwaukee Brewers, an MLB team, said they would postpone a game against the Cincinnati Reds, multiple sources reported.
Police in Kenosha shot Blake, 29, multiple times in the back while his children were nearby in their car. Videos of the shooting have set off a wave of protests, some of which have turned violent. Two people in Kenosha died Tuesday night after white armed vigilantes arrived at a protest.