The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for Wednesday’s NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic, setting off a chain reaction of player strikes that expanded from the NBA to sports leagues across the country.
The NBA returned on Saturday, and the Bucks made up that game against the Magic with a 118-104 victory to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The restart marked the end of a three-day hiatus of play inside the NBA bubble where it was revealed the Bucks acted on their own in initiating the walkout.
Only after Milwaukee declined to play did the rest of the league follow. Not everybody in the bubble was happy about the Bucks acting on their own, but players settled their differences and agreed to return to the court on Saturday.
Giannis explains how Bucks walkout unfolded
After Saturday’s game, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo explained how the decision to skip Wednesday’s game went down. It started with guard George Hill, who lamented being inside the bubble in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake that prompted this week’s work stoppage.
Forward Sterling Brown — himself a victim of police brutality — agreed with Hill, according to Antetokounmpo. The rest of the team followed.
“I saw George and Sterling,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. “George decided not to play the game, and he didn’t put pressure to none of his teammates. Not me. Not the coach.
“Sterling decided to do the same thing. He came in the locker room to talk to us, and I decided as a leader, as Giannis, that’s who I am, I was like I’m not playing this game. I didn’t want to play this game.”
Antetokounmpo said he then approached head coach Mike Budenholzer, and the team decided collectively not to take the court against Orlando.
“I told coach I’m not playing this game,” Antetokounmpo continued. “I can’t leave my teammates behind. They felt a type of way about all the frustration that was going on, it wasn’t in the right space to play the game. A hundred percent fully support them. Win or lose, I support them. Going out there or not going out there, staying in the locker room, I support them.
“So, we decided as a team not to go out there, and that’s how it happened.”
Giannis ‘very surprised’ about Black experience in U.S.
Antetokounmpo, who is from Greece, answered a question about the difference between being a Black man in his home country and a Black man in America.
I asked Giannis about racism in Greece and how he learned about the experience of Black Americans. pic.twitter.com/UAhINB7OLn— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 29, 2020
“There’s a lot of people that might have felt racism and at times we might have felt the same way, but I was never scared for my life,” Antetokounmpo said of growing up in Greece. “Walking down the street, I was never scared that something might happen to me.
“It’s tough,” Antetokounmpo continued when talking about life in America. “People are scared to walk in the street because of the color of their skin. ... I just became a dad a few months ago, and I had a conversation with my girlfriend. It’s scary. It’s scary to raise a son here and have a family.”’
He went on to say that he was “very surprised” about the experience of being Black in America.
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