NBA legend Kenny Smith walked off the NBA on TNT set on Thursday (AEST) in the wake of the league being rocked by a blayer strike and protest.
The three playoff games scheduled for Thursday were abandoned and postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their game against the Orlando Magic in response to Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, being shot by police Monday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Blake, 29, was left paralysed from the waist down and the shooting has sparked more protests across the country against police brutality and systemic racism.
Smith then delivered a powerful, unforgettable moment of television when he appeared to make up his mind on the run to walk off the live studio set in the middle of a speech about the players’ brave act of protest.
Kenny Smith walked off the set on TNT.Source:Twitter
“This is tough. Right now my head is ready to explode like in the thought of what’s going on,” Kenny Smith told viewers and his co-hosts Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.
“I don’t know if I’m appropriate enough to say it what the players are feeling and how they’re feeling. I haven’t talked to any player.
Incredible TV moment as Kenny walks off pic.twitter.com/CsMTL08x4c
“Even driving here and getting into the studio … hearing calls and people talking. … And for me, I think the biggest thing now As a black man as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not to be here tonight.
“And I figure out what happens after that,” Smith added as he was leaving the set.
His last sentences were only heard through the microphones of his colleagues after he took off the hot microphone from his jacket, calmly laid it on the broadcast desk and exited stage left.
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The constantly changing situation on Thursday afternoon resulted in the NBA’s board of governors meeting under emergency circumstances on Friday (AEST) to confront the potential forced cancellation of the season.
Within the players inside the Florida isolation bubble, there is reportedly real momentum to shut down the season as a result of the Jacob Blake shooting.
NBA superstar LeBron James has continued to be a leader by calling for change and on Thursday he didn’t hold back.
Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.Source:AFP
“F*** this man! We demand change. Sick of it,” LeBron James tweeted.
After the three scheduled Thursday games were called off following the Milwaukee Bucks’ call not to take the court in the wake of the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake, a meeting was held between the NBA and the players to decide the next steps.
A vote on what should happen next resulted in the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers voting for the remainder of the season to be shut down.
It was followed by another powerful, moving moment of television when another NBA legend Chris Webber delivered an emotional speech just minutes after Smith's walk-out.
“We know it won’t end tomorrow,” Webber said of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.
“We know there’s been a million marches and nothing will change tomorrow. We know vote. We keep hearing vote. Everybody vote. But I’m here to speak for those that are always marginalised. Those that live in these neighbourhoods where we preach and tell them to vote and walk away.”
He went on to say: “If not now, when? If not during a pandemic and countless lives being lost. If not now, when?” Webber said on TNT.
Powerful stuff from Chris Webber pic.twitter.com/iEH23Bs6Fp
“That’s all I want to hear. When? We know nothing is going to change. We get it…. but that doesn’t mean young men that you don’t do anything. Don’t listen to these people telling you it’s not going to end right away. You are starting something for the next generation and the next generation.”
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