The protest was in response to the announcement that Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey would not face charges for shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back, and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The decision comes on the heels of the events earlier today in Washington DC where a pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, and didn't receive anywhere close to treatment that Black people receive from authorities for doing far less.
Players from both teams explained their decision in a lengthy joint statement.
"2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on. The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do."
“We have decided to play tonight’s game to try to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America."
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Celtics players held a players-only meeting less than an hour before tonight's contest in Miami's locker room. Shortly before tip-off, the Celtics walked off the court, but planned on releasing the aforementioned statement explaining why they were playing with a heavy heart.
The Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks organized a protest of their own shortly after tip-off.