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How Pro Athletes Are Reacting To Police Shooting In Kenosha, Wis.


We have an update now on the NBA playoffs. They won't resume tonight but will resume soon. This follows a move by players and what looks sort of like a wildcat strike, protesting and refusing to take the court as they protest justice for Jacob Blake, the man shot by police in Kenosha, Wis.

We're coming back now to David Aldridge, longtime NBA correspondent with The Athletic. And, David, I want to come back to you because I understand this decision comes after many emotional conversations with the players, right?

DAVID ALDRIDGE: Yes, Audie. I mean, they have been talking the last couple of days about what to do in the wake of the latest shooting in Kenosha. And they're very frustrated that all of the things that they put in place when they came to Orlando - you know, putting Black Lives Matter on the court and putting social justice messages on their jerseys and speaking consistently about Breonna Taylor and some of the other shootings that have taken place - don't seem to have moved the needle I think as much as they had hoped. And so I think they wanted to try and recenter people's attention on the issues that were important to them, and they thought not playing was the most effective way of doing it.

CORNISH: Right. I use the term wildcat because essentially, this is not something that was voted on formally - right? - with the union membership.

ALDRIDGE: Well, that's right. I mean, the Milwaukee Bucks really started it. They kind of did it on their own, and the other teams followed suit. I think there were a lot of players that agree with the Bucks, but there were probably some players that didn't agree and that wanted to continue playing. But there was a feeling that last night there was just so much emotion in that room they wanted - the players' union wanted everybody to have a say, and they did. I think today when they met this morning, it was more along the lines of the union saying, look; we heard what you had to say, but we have to make some decisions now going forward. And the first decision we have to make is that we have to play. We have to get back to playing. If we want to keep our collective power as a union and as players as strong as possible, the only way to do that is to keep playing and keep people's attention on it.

CORNISH: We've seen other leagues in the past - we've seen other leagues kind of take this up - right? - in the last few days, the MLB, MLS. I'm especially curious about the WNBA because financially, is the women's league equipped to handle a work stoppage?

ALDRIDGE: Well, look; I think every league has taken a huge financial hit this year whether they're playing or not playing. I think if the WNBA were to stop playing, that would be a very different conversation - if they were to stop playing permanently this year. I think if they do continue to play, they'll be OK. That league has started to have some traction, and that's kind of a factor, too, is that you see a lot of more interest in the WNBA in the last year and a half kind of across the board, whether it's TV ratings or media writing about them. And I think they'd like to keep that momentum going. So I don't know that there's consensus in the WNBA to stop playing altogether knowing that people are, you know, really starting to pay attention to the excellence on the court.

CORNISH: Just a few seconds left - who should we watch for in the next few days to see where this story is moving?

ALDRIDGE: Well, look at - you know, Chris Paul is the head of the players' union. He plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Obviously what LeBron James is very important - does and says is very important. And I believe that he'll be on board going forward with playing. The star players in the league will dictate, I think, how this goes. And I think most of them want to keep playing, so I suspect that they will continue playing this weekend.

CORNISH: David Aldridge is editor-in-chief of The Athletic DC. Thanks so much.

ALDRIDGE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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