Disappointment has begun to mount among Milwaukee Bucks players inside the NBA bubble and it doesn’t have anything to do with basketball or falling behind 1-0 to the Miami Heat.
The Bucks suffered a 115-104 loss to the Heat on Monday, but on the same day in Wisconsin, there was also no action taken by the Republican-controlled legislature on an issue that’s important to them.
In a special session called by Gov. Tony Evers to pass a package of bills on policing policies after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, seven times in the back, Republicans started and recessed in less than 30 seconds — satisfying requirements of the law that they meet.
That didn’t sit well with the Bucks, who chose not to play last Wednesday in protest of Blake’s shooting — a game that was postponed to Saturday.
“We’re trying to find that balance. I think there’s things going on in our country that are more important than basketball and we all know that. I think watching what happened yesterday was disappointing with our legislature gaveling in and gaveling out,” veteran Kyle Korver said. “It was disappointing. Surely, there are things to talk about right now, right? Like surely there are things that our state needs leadership in and how can we be better? And, I think what we’re trying to figure out as a team is we don’t want to be aligned politically. Like sport has always had the opportunity to be a bridge in life in so many ways and that’s what we’re trying to do as a team. We’re trying to be a bridge.
“We’re trying to stand in the middle. We’re trying to stand for what’s right. We’re trying to stand for people but we’re demanding that our leaders be better. Was there really nothing to talk about yesterday? And is all that’s important in life is ratings and approval? Like what matters in our country?” he added. “We’re getting so sidetracked with the narratives that people are trying to create. Our team is trying to stand in the middle. We’re trying to be a bridge and I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday. We can only control what we can control and we have a big series that we’re in. We’re trying to do both, but we’re trying to stand in the middle. Sport has always had that opportunity. So, we’re trying to partner with the other teams in the state and say how can we be leaders? Because we need leadership in our state and our country. We need leadership that is standing for the people.
“We need this right now and we’re not getting it. So, we don’t want to be pulled one way or the other. We’re learning on the fly how to try and be in the middle and it’s tough, but that’s our heart and I hope everyone knows it in Wisconsin. We’re trying to stand for what’s right and there are things that need to be addressed in our state.”
Per the Associated Press, the bills that Evers wants the Legislature to take up would do a number of things, including:
* Ban the use of chokeholds by police and no-knock warrants;
* Creating statewide standards for police use of force;
* Require police officers to annually complete at least eight hours of training on use-of-force options and de-escalation techniques;
* Require every law enforcement agency to have a use-of-force policy and make it publicly available online.
Republicans kept the session open rather than adjourning it, which means they could take action at a later date.
With Monday’s loss, the Bucks became 4th 1-seed to lose Game 1 in each of their first 2 series, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They’re the 34th team to do it regardless of seed under the current playoff format (since 1983-84); only 1 of the previous 33 teams went on to win the title (1994-95 Rockets). Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton is focused on completing his basketball task, but doesn’t view them speaking up as an issue, either.
“That’s what life is about. It’s not always just about basketball. Basketball is a big part of our lives but off the court, it affects our lives also,” Middleton said. “It’s disappointing to hear the news about how the meeting went yesterday with the legislature gaveling in and gaveling out in 30 seconds so we just want to keep bringing awareness to that and hope they did the right thing for the people and just bring people together. But as far as balancing it all, I think we’re professionals. We know once we step on that basketball court we’ve got to take care of that business and not let off-court issues or whatever it is affect us on the court, but off the court, we’re human beings. We have to do what we need to do.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer couldn’t speak for how all the players gathered their information or when they became knowledgeable of the situation, but they did recently have a conversation on the topic as a team to share thoughts about it. They’re on the same page to bring change, starting within the state they represent.
“Speaking personally, I think it’s really disappointing that the people we’ve elected to govern in Wisconsin. The people who republicans and democrats have put in office. We don’t claim to know everything about politics but it just seems like to get in a room, to have a conversation, to debate it, to talk about it … there’s lots of things going on in our state, between COVID-19, social unrest, to come to work, to have conversation, to have debate, to figure out what is going on,” Budenholzer said. “It seems like there’s significant things that need to be addressed, that need to be considered possible. Governance, leadership is needed at this time. So, for the leadership to gavel in and gavel out after 30 seconds is just disappointing. At the end of the day, it feels like there’s work to be done and they’re not doing it.
“And again, as far as are we capable of staying bipartisan as people in sports and I think the conversation it is, is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a republican or democrat, it seems like you should be in the chambers, having conversations, debating.”