Some places come and go, while some places become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. Join us as we revisit beloved and well-worn local staples with fresh eyes, and explore how they might figure in the city’s future.
This Milwaukee Bucks season was shaping up to be one for the history books. Before the world turned upside-down in mid-March, the team had the NBA’s best record and was in the process of cruising to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo turned in a historically good season that has already earned him NBA Defensive Player Of The Year honors and makes him a favorite for this year’s MVP (his second Most Valuable Player award in as many seasons).
After scuffling, but ultimately doing what they needed to claim the one-seed in “The Bubble” during the eight-game regular season “reset” in Orlando, the Bucks were looking to close out the Magic in Game 5 on Wednesday afternoon before continuing to the next series on the way to finishing what they started last fall. They didn’t set foot on the court. As we all know, Milwaukee’s decision to stay in the locker room was a response to Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, as well as countless other acts of police brutality against people of color.
By boycotting the game—or “striking” or “wildcat striking”…whatever term you care to use—and, once again, hitting pause on their quest to bring Milwaukee its first title in more than 50 years, the Bucks did something far more memorable, far more significant, and far more historic than anything the team ever could have accomplished on the court. The unprecedented decision to sit out a postseason game quickly led to the NBA postponing Wednesday’s other games (and meeting to discuss whether to even continue the postseason at all). The Brewers didn’t waste much time before postponing last night’s game as well. The Mariners also decided not to play their scheduled match-up against the Padres. The WNBA called its slate of three games off, and five MLS games also didn’t take place last night. Today, more games in those leagues have been postponed, some NFL teams—including the Green Bay Packers—called off practices, and the NHL postponed tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff games.
A long-overdue movement was given a jolt of life. Conversations (both productive and troubling) were/are happening because of this. In a moment, a frustrated faction of Americans struggling for a sustained voice were suddenly given untold validation from figures who were willing to offer something more substantial than a supportive tweet, a message on a jersey, or a form of silent protest minutes before a game being played to entertain a divided and troubled nation. Something big happened yesterday, and it started with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
Throughout the week, Milwaukee’s players, its front office, and the team’s ownership have all stressed messages of equality and accountability. That messaging isn’t anything new to the Bucks. In recent years, members of the team have been vocal about race, inequality, and police brutality. In addition to those statements, the team has also walked the walk—quite literally—by taking part in Black Lives Matter marches this summer. Sterling Brown recently rejected a settlement stemming from a 2018 incident in which the Bucks guard was tackled, tased, and arrested for parking in a handicapped spot.
“The city of Milwaukee wanted to give me $400,000 to be quiet after cops kneeled on my neck, stood on my ankle, and tased me in a parking lot,” Brown wrote last month. “I want more than just money. I want cops to show respect and to be held accountable when they step out of line, especially in the neighborhoods they are supposed to serve and protect every day. If they kill a man, I want them to receive the same punishment that another guy on the street would.”
The Bucks have been nothing short of incredible on the hardwood this season. Off the court, the team’s actions have been just as commendable. While it now appears as if the NBA Playoffs will resume this weekend and the Bucks will still have a chance to continue on the road to a title, the players truly didn’t know that would be the case Wednesday. Yesterday, in a so-called “bubble” that wasn’t safeguarded from reports of injustices continuing to take place outside its borders, the Bucks made history with a gesture that was done in an effort to make the world a better place. No matter how the rest of these games shake out, the Milwaukee Bucks have already won. Respect.