The Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to resume their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday evening, three days after Game 5 of the best-of-seven series was postponed because of a player boycott.
The boycott prompted by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin led to the postponements of all playoff games Wednesday and Thursday.
Following a meeting Thursday involving players and team representatives of all 13 teams remaining in the playoffs, an agreement was announced Friday to resume the playoffs Saturday.
The agreement between the league and National Basketball Players Association, the union representing the league’s players, includes the commitment to three social-justice measures:
— establishing a “social justice coalition” of players, coaches and team owners that will focus on issues “including increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform”;
— working with officials in every NBA city to use team arenas as voting locations for the November election; and
— developing advertisements that will air during every NBA playoff game “dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”
A joint statement from the league and the union said the commitments “follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community.”
Following through on the pledge regarding vote centers, the Clippers and Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan announced Friday afternoon that the Forum in Inglewood will be a vote center for November’s election.
The Clippers’ home court is currently at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, but the team owns the Forum and is moving toward building a new arena nearby.
“Hosting a vote center at the Forum ensures Inglewood and the surrounding communities have a safe and positive in-person voting experience at one of L.A.’s historic landmarks,” Logan said in a statement. He said the arena will open for voting and ballot drop-off on Oct. 24, staying open through the Nov. 3 election.
The Clippers also plan to establish a website at www.lavoterswin.com aimed at encouraging voter participation and providing residents with information about voter registration, issues on the ballot and how to vote.
Lakers star LeBron James previously helped broker a deal for Dodger Stadium to also be used as a vote center for the election.
The Lakers lead the series, 3-1, winning three consecutive games following a 100-93 loss in Game 1 on Aug. 18. The Lakers have not won a playoff series since a seven-game victory over the Denver Nuggets in a first-round series in 2012.
Portland will be without star guard Damian Lillard, who suffered a right knee sprain in the third quarter of Game 4 on Monday. Lillard leads the Trail Blazers in scoring during the playoffs, averaging 24.3 points per game.
Lillard was unanimously selected as the NBA Player of the Seeding Games in voting by sportswriters and broadcasters who were on site covering the 2019-20 season restart at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Lillard averaged a league-high 37.6 points and 9.6 assists in the seeding games, including 61- and 51-point performances as well as a 45-point, 12-assist game, helping lead the Portland to a 6-2 record.
Saturday’s 6 p.m. game will be televised by Spectrum SportsNet and TNT.
The entire NBA postseason is being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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