NBA commentator Kenny Smith walked off the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA during Wednesday’s live broadcast in a show of solidarity with the players who boycotted that day’s three playoff games.
“Right now, my head is just ready to explode,” Smith — a former NBA player and two-time champion who’s worked for Turner Sports since 1998 — said. “As a Black man, as a former player, I think the best thing is for me to support the players and just not be here tonight,” he added before removing his mic pack and walking off the set during the live broadcast.
Watch video of the incident here:
The NBA postponed Wednesday’s three playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott their game against the Orlando Magic to protest Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake. (The Bucks hail from Wisconsin, where Blake was shot seven times by police and reportedly paralyzed.) “In light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games… have been postponed,” the league and the players association announced via Twitter, noting that “Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”
The NBA has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement since the restart of the 2019-20 season in Orlando last month, with players wearing messages on their jerseys pushing for social justice like “Black Lives Matter” and “How Many More.” (The Black Lives Matter message is also printed on the court itself.)
The shooting of Blake has sparked days of protest in Wisconsin and across the country, with riots and clashes between police and protestors in the Wisconsin city of Kenosha, where Blake was shot. This follows a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement this year in light of the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May, along with the killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky in March.