Last August, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob Blake became another unarmed Black man who was brutalized by police officers. The officers shot him several times in the back in front of his children. He wasn't killed, but he was left paralyzed. This unfortunate tragedy happened in the home state of the Milwaukee Bucks after the gruesome murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, which led to national civil unrest and a demand for justice. The shooting of Jacob Blake was the equivalent of attempting to put out a house fire with the use of gasoline.
At the time of the Blake shooting, the NBA had recently returned to television in what was ultimately seen as a polarizing decision. The players and consumers alike wondered if the return would seem insensitive and draw attention away from the various social movements happening across this nation as well as worldwide. Ultimately, the players decided that they had a greater voice by using their platform as a means to call to action their team owners, as well as local and federal governments alike.
On August 23, 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks were in the playoff series with the Orlando Magic. In the wake of the Blake shooting, the Bucks decided to forfeit their playoff game as a form of protest against this heinous crime. Orlando Magic agreed to not play as well, which postponed the playoffs altogether in the NBA, as well as MLB games on that day.
The Bucks as a team made the statement as a gesture to their community. The move was made in the right spirit by squad of ballers of high character. That’s why during this year’s truncated season, I’m sure Giannis Antetokounmpo and his guys felt a little extra motivation to bring the state their first NBA championship in fifty years. Winning doesn’t cure the original sins of this country, but it does bring some hope to the people. I know that the Black community in Kenosha and the Black community in Wisconsin, as a whole, appreciate the visibility that the Bucks brought to this horrible situation.
And though as much as I rooted against Milwaukee and wanted Chris Paul to get his first NBA championship, in hindsight, it was kismet. It's a beautiful silver lining that I’m amazed has gotten by most folks. It’s truly amazing to herald the journey of Giannis Antetokounmpo. The transcendent skills that he has continued to cultivate, coupled with his immense focus and diligence has led to this point. But overall, what you can be most proud of when it comes to Giannis and the Bucks are their commitment to community.
Kahlil Haywood is a writer, author, and content creator from Brooklyn, NY. He really thinks that you should be familiar with him by now, but if you aren't, feel free to be. Follow his work on Instagram @Damnitpops and his thoughts and rants on Twitter @Damnpops