The professional sports schedule was busier Friday after a string of postponements the past two days, but things will really pick up this weekend.
The NBA announced Friday it will resume its playoffs on Saturday after three days without games in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wis., last weekend.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association made the announcement in a joint statement.
Arenas offered as voting locations
The league and its players agreed to resume after establishing a commitment to move forward in three areas.
The NBA and its players will form a social justice coalition; franchise governors will work with local elections officials to convert team-owned arenas into voting locations for the U.S. election in November; and the league will work with players and network partners to create advertising spots in each playoff game dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement and raising awareness around voter access.
The Eastern Conference semifinal opener between the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics needs to be rescheduled after being called off Thursday. The Raptors were one of at least four teams to cancel planned media sessions on Friday as they awaited clarity on the NBA’s situation.
The Milwaukee Bucks triggered two days of cancellations by refusing to take the court Wednesday to protest social and racial injustice.
The NHL, meanwhile, had a second straight day without games on Friday.
The league resumes its playoff schedule on Saturday with three games in Toronto and Edmonton, with players hoping to send a strong message.
“It’s about any type of social injustice and racism. But obviously hockey is close to our hearts and right now it’s about supporting our fellow players and be there for them and supporting them,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said. “Within the hockey world we definitely want to accomplish some things, but then that also means to go broader than that and help in society as well and try to bring change.”
The Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning kick things off Saturday at 12 p.m. ET with Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal in Toronto. The New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers square off in Game 4 of their series on Saturday night in Toronto, and the Vancouver Canucks face the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal in the final game of the night in Edmonton.
Lightning defenceman Luke Schenn said the two-day pause gave players time to educate themselves.
“It doesn’t matter who was here first. The whole point of the conversation now is that we’re all having the conversation at this point in time and we’re all looking to educate ourselves and wanting to improve,” he said.
“We all realize that nothing’s going to be fixed by tomorrow morning, but this is a situation where everyone needs to continue to learn and ask questions and do what’s right, be a good person in this world. Educate your kids and teach them and grow and show them the right way. It definitely is a long-term thing, but the whole point of the pause was to get everyone to sit back and listen and reflect.”
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Major League Baseball returned for Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, paying tribute to the man who broke the colour barrier in the sport, after 10 postponements the past two days.
Tennis also returned after play was postponed Thursday, with Canadian Milos Raonic upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in semifinal action at the Western & Southern Open in New York.
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A Major League Soccer game in Montreal between the Impact and Toronto FC was scheduled for Friday night after five of the league’s last six games were postponed on Wednesday.
The WNBA also was slated to resume Friday with three games after postponing games the past two days at its bubble in Bradenton, Fla.
Kayla Alexander of Milton, Ont., and Bridget Carleton of Chatham, Ont., were to play for the Minnesota Lynx against the Atlanta Dream in the first game on Friday night.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2020.