The Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons united in protest at the start of Wednesday night's NBA game in Milwaukee, with each team taking a knee on the court immediately following the opening tip-off.
As reported by Sports Illustrated, the Bucks won the tip and then kneeled before throwing the ball out of bounds, and the Pistons returned the gesture on the following possession. Multiple NBA teams elected to take a knew prior to games Wednesday.
The demonstration at Fiserv Forum came hours after a violent breach of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. by supporters of President Donald Trump who sought to disrupt Congress members as they met to formally certify Joe Biden's election victory. A day earlier, a Wisconsin prosecutor declined to file charges against the police officer who shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed. The shooting, which took place 40 miles south of Milwaukee in Kenosha, Wis., drew league-wide response from players, and particularly from the Bucks organization, which issued the following statement Wednesday.
“The Bucks organization remains firmly against excessive use of force by law enforcement. This past year shed light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American and other marginalized communities. Reoccurring instances of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the Black community must stop. We will continue to work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist. As an organization, we remain strongly committed to address issues of social injustice and anti-racism and to make meaningful change for African Americans and all marginalized members of our community.”
Ahead of Wednesday's game, Bucks center Brook Lopez was asked whether the Blake decision caused the team to feel that its past advocacy had been for naught.
“It’s obviously disappointing, very disheartening,” Lopez said, as reported by Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I think it’s an incorrect decision. I don’t think everything we did as an organization…was in vain at all. I think that would be the wrong lesson to take from this. We want to take all the momentum we’ve gained up until this point and continue to push forward for reform and for change because as you can see, there’s still a long way to go. And even as outspoken as we were, as united as we were and are, we have a ways to go, but obviously, together, we can get there. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we can get there.”
Speaking on the incident at the Capitol, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer described viewing the events as "very frustrating," per Stephen Watson of Milwaukee's ABC affiliate WISN.
"It’s very, very unfortunate, very frustrating,” Budenholzer said before the game. “Like a lot of things in our country, I guess we’re hoping for a lot better today, tonight, going forward. Hopefully, maybe learn and grow in some strange, difficult way from what’s obviously very problematic.”