Mike Budenholzer Told Bucks to 'Push for Better' After Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

Erin WalshNovember 20, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 07: Head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks looks on during the second half of the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on November 7, 2021 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

During his pregame press conference Friday, Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer took the time to address the news that Kyle Rittenhouse had been found not guilty of homicide and other charges following the fatal shooting of two men and injuring of another during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020.

"Still trying to push for better in our country," Budenholzer said before Friday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, per ESPN's Jamal Collier. "Hoping for improvement. Organizationally, just continue to fight for social justice, for better. But at the same time, have to abide by the jury and the decision and the verdict and continue to fight for better."

Rittenhouse, 18, was found not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

The Illinois native, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, crossed state lines to attend a protest in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. He said he was protecting a car dealership and also claimed to be an EMT, which proved to be false. 

Rittenhouse also said that the three men he shot during the protests were attacking him and that he fired his weapon in self-defense. If found guilty on the first-degree intentional homicide charge, Rittenhouse faced life in prison. 

In regards to Budenholzer, he would not go into detail about how much the team had been monitoring the case over the last several days, per ESPN.

"Obviously it was very closely connected with the Jacob Blake case and the connection to everything that transpired while we were in Orlando in the bubble," Budenholzer said.

The Bucks took a stand in support of racial and social justice when they decided to sit out Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Magic in the Orlando bubble following the shooting of Blake in August 2020. 

Budenholzer's comments echo those from other leaders around the NBA. Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash called the situation "disappointing," adding that people must continue "to fight for the type of justice and equality that serves all."

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had similar comments, voicing concerns about gun laws in the United States in addition to saying the country is "treading down a dangerous path."