ATLANTA — The WNBA postponed its three scheduled games for Wednesday, led by players from the Atlanta Dream, who first said they would join with players from the NBA and Major League Baseball in a boycott over the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin.
Shorty after, Atlanta United followed behind them tweeting a statement that "we stand in solidarity with the Black community."
"We must use our voices to be the change," the tweet reads.
Players from the Milwaukee Bucks decided Wednesday afternoon not to play in protest of the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin of Jacob Blake on Sunday.
Blake has been left paralyzed following the shooting in the city, which is located about 40 miles south of Milwaukee, and 65 miles north of Chicago.
"The players had heavy hearts and they wanted to take a stand and continue the conversation about police brutality," said Dream head coach Nicki Collen after the decision was made not to play Wednesday's game.
Along with the Dream, their opponents for Wednesday night, the Washington Mystics, stood in solidarity with them.
"There was probably no perfect answer for tonight," Collen said. "But I'm glad they decided to stand in solidarity as a league, and the teams that spoke tonight, came to the conclusion that they were not going to play."
Dream forward Elizabeth Williams read a statement on behalf of the all six teams scheduled to play on Wednesday.
"After speaking with representatives of the teams playing here tonight, as well as the WNBPA leadership, the consensus is not to play in tonight's slate of games; and to kneel, lock arms and raise fists during the national anthem.
We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA, and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action.
What we have seen over the last few months, and have seen with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change.
These moments are why it's important for our fans to stay focused, hear our voices, know our hearts and connect the dots from what we say to what we do. We encourage everyone to go and register to vote -- now, today.
If you truly believe that Black Lives Matter, then vote. Go and complete the 2020 Census now. Don't wait.
If we wait, we don't make change.
Your voice matters.
Your vote matters.
Do all that you can to demand that your leaders stop with the empty words and do something. This is the reason for the 2020 season. It is in our DNA.
We have been saying her name; we have been lifting the names of black and brown women whose murders have been forgotten. We will continue to use our platform to speak of these injustices that are still happening and demand action for change.
Black Lives Matter.
Say her name.
Say his name.
Tonight, we stand. And while we have heavy hearts, we stand with strong and determined voices, and ask all our fans to vote, to engage and to make that difference."
With that, the players from each of the six teams slated to play Wednesday night - the Phoenix Mercury, Connecticut Sun, Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics and the Atlanta Dream - opted not to play.
Similarly, the three games scheduled for the NBA on Wednesday night - Orlando vs. Milwaukee, Oklahoma City vs. Houston and Portland vs. the L.A. Lakers - were also canceled, when their players also decided to boycott, due to the police shooting in Wisconsin.
Former NBA player Kenny Smith, an analyst for TNT's "Inside the NBA," found himself unable to objectively express himself over the incident.
"I don't even know if I'm appropriate enough to say it," Smith said during the early moments of Wednesday night's program, which is produced at Turner Studios in Atlanta. "For me -- 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."
At that point, Smith turned off his microphone and unhooked it.
"And figure out what happens after that," Smith said. "I just don't feel it tonight."
As Smith got up and walked off the set, his fellow hosts, Ernie Johnson and former players Shaquille O'Neil and Charles Barkley looked on quietly.
"And I respect that," Johnson said.
At least three Major League Baseball games - the Cincinnati Reds at the Milwaukee Brewers the Seattle Mariners at the San Diego Padres and the L.A. Dodgers at the San Francisco Giants - also were canceled when players joined the boycott. A fourth MLB game, featuring the L.A. Angels at the Houston Astros, had already been canceled in advance of Hurricane Laura.
There was also word that players from at least two Major League Soccer teams were discussing a similar boycott Wednesday evening.
Players from Atlanta United and Inter Miami CF were engaged in conversation that delayed the 8 p.m. scheduled start of their match.
Then, Miami tweeted the game against Atlanta United had been postponed.
The remaining four MLS matches scheduled for Wednesday were also postponed a short time later.
She explained her position in a statement on social media that she released in English and Japanese.
"Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis," Osaka said, in part. "Watching the continued genocide of Black people a the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach."
"The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28," the joint statement said.