Bucks

Bucks Embracing Community Like Never Before

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It’s happening.

Well, there’s a lot happening in the world as we prepare ourselves for the return of Bucks basketball. While the NBA Bubble may be serving its justice by keeping COVID-19 under control, it’s important to remember that we are also engaged in a civil rights movement.

Not all fans may enjoy it, but the NBA is showing its support. The Bucks, in particular, have embraced the community regarding these issues over the last few years.

Bucks Active

Early last month, Bucks players, along with local activist Frank Nitty, held a public protest in Milwaukee. The march was led by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. He made a short statement before the marching began.

It is important to notice the leadership of Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. This focus is what you want from your franchise player. This is what you want from your teams in the city. It’s necessary for any team to show support for the city they play in, and the fans they play in front of.

The Bucks have even gone the extra mile (28 miles to be exact) and visited inmates at Racine Correctional Institution in December of 2019 as part of a “Play for Justice” initiative. In February while the Kings were in town, both teams held the second segment of “Team Up For Change” to bring awareness and change to their communities.

Brown Wronged

The two teams have taken steps in addressing social injustices and issues of equality after both cities have faced social uprisings. That also includes an incident involving Bucks G/F Sterling Brown. He helped lead the peaceful protest on June 7th with chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

Police arrested Brown after he parked in two parking spaces. Then, they threw him to the ground and tazed him for allegedly resisting arrest. Officers released him that Friday morning and he played that same night against the Nets. After the government released bodycam footage on May 24, 2018, Brown filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city a few weeks later. The case is currently unresolved after a recent rejection of a $400,000 settlement.

The social issues in the city haven’t only been about law enforcement. Former Bucks C John Henson experienced racial profiling from a jewelry store in the neighboring town of Whitefish Bay. The owner denied him access, locked the doors, and called police. Former Bucks G Malcolm Brogdon also commented on Milwaukee’s notorious segregation problem. Brogdon left the team in free agency this past offseason, and he wasn’t going to sign here even if the Bucks offered him more money because of the city’s race issues.

Old Bucks fans also love hearing about Kareem’s issues with racism in the city back in the ’70s and how that made his decision to leave easier.

New Commitment

The franchise seems more committed to its players and community now than ever before. Players have never been this involved with their communities. Also, Bucks ownership has done a tremendous job with fan interactions. As most franchises and major companies around the country have taken notice to groups like Black Lives Matter, the NBA and the Bucks have also shown support for the LGBTQ community during pride month.

Since there were no games, and for reasons much bigger than the game itself, it’s encouraging to witness the league’s return. Some players may feel the social burden of playing not only during a pandemic but a civil rights movement. Bucks G Kyle Korver, a 16-year veteran competing for his first NBA title, was open to any possibilities.

As the league returns, players are given the option of having a message displayed on the back of their jersey. A total of sixteen Bucks players are taking advantage of that opportunity. That makes 76 NBA players overall.

  • Kyle Korver – Black Lives Matter
  • Khris Middleton – Black Lives Matter
  • Marvin Williams – Black Lives Matter
  • D.J. Wilson – Black Lives Matter
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo – Equality
  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo – Equality
  • Pat Connaughton – Equality
  • Donte DiVincenzo – Equality
  • Eric Bledsoe – Freedom
  • Frank Mason – How Many More
  • Ersan Ilyasova – Justice
  • George Hill – Justice Now
  • Brook Lopez – Justice Now
  • Sterling Brown – Liberation
  • Robin Lopez – Stand Up
  • Wesley Matthews – Vote

Is It Necessary?

It’s been stressed heavily for years that politics and sports shouldn’t coexist. It’s a fair argument to make that sports has always been a way of coming together, while political energy tends to do the opposite.

That is being fully displayed here in 2020.

Unfortunately, simple messages of equality and accountability have to be twisted into political portrayals. The NBA is simply doing what people have been asking for, and that’s listening. Displaying these messages on the courts and giving players the right to do the same on their jerseys is a small, but loving gesture. The league doesn’t have the power to change laws, but they have one of the best platforms to speak from.

It’s also rather obvious that the majority of NBA players have been approving of the movement. Commissioner Adam Silver, league owners, GM’s and coaches have all shown great support as well.

Home Stretch

Although the team is now bubbled in Orlando, the franchise continues to fulfill its active role in the home community.

The Bucks teamed up with Sargento Cheese this season for the first year of the “Tipoff for Homes” initiative, which supports Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. The initiative included a $500 donation from Sargento for every time the Bucks won an opening tip. The Bucks knocked 50 out of 65 tips their way (thanks Brook) and earned $25,000 in donations. Sargento also decided to donate $500 for the 17 games that were cut short from the pandemic. Together, they raised $33,500.

We can expect the Bucks to continue their embracement, as they have demonstrated their devotion of social equality towards Wisconsinites for years. And as the season returns, fans should use that as a platform for unity. We can welcome the season’s arrival as a new chapter in the game, as the 2019-2020 season will be one of the most historic.

Bucks fans should also keep in mind that their team is a legitimate contender to bring that historic trophy home.

Follow us on Twitter @BucksLead for the latest Bucks news and insight.

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About Mike Konicek

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