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Morning Report: Israel Adesanya supports NBA players boycott following police shooting of Jacob Blake

Earlier this week in Kenosha, WI, a black man named Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police responding to a domestic incident. The incident, which was caught on camera by bystanders, caught national attention and triggered public outrage about the shooting of yet another unarmed black man by police. Things then got worse when a 17-year-old killed two people at a protest in the city. In response, on Wednesday the Milwaukee Bucks, who are one of the favorites to win the championship this year, refused to take the court for a scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic as a form of protest to police brutality. This, in turn, triggered other teams to follow suit, with some players potentially opting to sit out the remainder of the playoffs.

So what does this have to do with MMA? Well, in the wake of these events, several fighters have spoken out about the situation in Kenosha and the NBA’s response to it. Some have supported the NBA players, some have attacked them, and still others have blamed the Wisconsin governor. And now the UFC middleweight champion has weighed in.

On Thursday, Israel Adesanya spoke to Luke Thomas about the NBA players’ walkout and supported them in their efforts to fight for social change.

“If the NBA walks out, if they f*ck their money up, that’s the owners’ money and the shareholders and whatever – good,” Adesanya said. “If that’s what it takes to bring change, then good. . . Whatever has to happen, man. I’m finding my own way to change the world around me, but I’m doing that in my own life, away from the media.

“I’m trying to respond, not react, because I feel like that’s what they want. They want me to react. They want us to react. They want us to point the finger – blame each other, this side vs. this side. ‘My God is better than your God. My race is better than your race. My people are better than your people.’

“Like, what the f*ck is Blue Lives Matter? You choose to be a cop. You don’t choose to be black. It’s a privilege to be black. Bottom line, I choose to respond, rather than react, so I’m taking my time because it just happened, but good on the players in the NBA for doing so. I commend them for that.”

Adesanya is one of the biggest stars in the UFC and has been a fervent support of the Black Lives Matter movement, speaking at a rally outside of the U.S. Embassy in Auckland earlier this year in response to the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. And though this is obviously yet another tragic situation, Adesanya believes that, inevitably, things will change for the better.

“In time. Love will win, in time.”

Adesanya is scheduled to defend his middleweight title against Paulo Costa at UFC 253 on Sept. 26, at a yet to be determined location.

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