Kyle Korver Details Bucks' Playoff Protest After Jacob Blake Shooting

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Kyle Korver dribbles during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks forward Kyle Korver recounted when the team decided not to play in an NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic as a form of protest in August.

Korver said Sunday at an event for his alma mater Creighton that Bucks players "were not really there mentally" ahead of the game. They had been deeply affected by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham, who has two sons, was especially emotional.

George Hill was the first Bucks player to signal he wasn't going to play, with Sterling Brown joining him. The rest of the team quickly agreed not to play.

With nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality ongoing, the NBA said in June it had met with a group of players included Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala "to further advance the league's collective response to the social justice issues in our country."

The league also made ceremonial gestures such as painting Black Lives Matter on the courts it used for its restart at Walt Disney World Resort. Players were also permitted to wear a preapproved social justice message on the back of their jerseys.

However, some players were reportedly concerned before the restart that the return of basketball would take attention away from the protests. Hill argued that point following the shooting of Blake, per USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt:

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"First of all, we shouldn't even have came to this damn place to be honest. Coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we're here. It is what it is. We can't do anything from right here. But definitely when it's all settled, some things need to be done. This world has to change. Our police department has to change. Us a society has to change. Right now, we're not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken as we speak day in and day out. There's no consequence or accountability for it. That's what has to change."

Two days after making those comments, the Bucks started what became a brief leaguewide shutdown. The movement spread to MLS, MLB and the WNBA as well.

It looked like the fate of the 2019-20 NBA season was in jeopardy again.

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Aug. 28 that games would resume after the league and players' union reached an agreement. Among the commitments from the NBA was for team governors to convert privately owned arenas into voting locations for the upcoming elections.