Giannis Antetokounmpo Explained How The Bucks Decision Not To Play Wednesday Came About

When the Bucks refused to come out of the locker room ahead of Game 5 on Wednesday against the Magic in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, they began a movement that spread throughout all of the major sports leagues, which put play on pause on Wednesday and Thursday in solidarity.

Saturday, they returned to play as the league restarted the playoffs after a three day pause in which players met with each other and with owners to discuss next steps and how teams and the league can try to impact more change in their communities. For Milwaukee, they were able to speak with the Wisconsin attorney general and lieutenant governor and provided the push needed to get the state legislature back in session to vote on a police reform bill — and seeing them do that has led to other teams having similar calls with local and state officials to try and figure out how to impact change.

The Bucks finished off the Magic on Saturday afternoon in a 118-104 win in the rescheduled Game 5, but after the game the focus was still on the movement for social justice. Giannis Antetokounmpo explained to reporters how the Bucks decision came about, citing George Hill and Sterling Brown as the catalysts, with the rest of the Bucks rallying around their teammates and making a united front.

“I saw George and Sterling, George decided not to play the game and he didn’t put pressure to none of his teammates,” Antetokounmpo said. “Not me, coach, Sterling decided to do the same thing. He came in talking to us and I decided as a leader, as Giannis, that’s who I am, I’m not playing this game. I didn’t want to play this game. I told coach I’m not playing this game. 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.”

It illustrates just how spontaneous the decision was — which was reportedly a point of contention for some other players in the Bubble — but the result of their choice not to play is undeniable, as they sparked important conversations and pushed the league and local officials to respond and do a bit more.