As the Milwaukee Bucks prepared for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against Orlando, coach Mike Budenholzer addressed the protests that have erupted in Wisconsin after the police shooting of a Black man identified as Jacob Blake.
“Just like to send out my thoughts and prayers to Jacob Blake and his family, another young Black man shot by a police officer,” Budenholzer said Monday. “We need to have change. We need to be better. And I’m hoping for the best for him and his family. I’m hoping for the best as we work through this in Wisconsin and Milwaukee and Kenosha. So thoughts and prayers for Jacob Blake.”
The Bucks issued a statement on Monday addressing the shooting.
Blake has been hospitalized in serious condition. The incident happened Sunday evening in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Officers responding to a domestic disturbance shot Blake in the back seven times as he tried to enter his vehicle. The incident was captured on social media and recently shared by Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump.
Budenholzer said he has chosen not to watch the graphic video, but says he has read about it and has engaged in in-depth conversations about it. He sees it as another reason to push for social justice during the NBA season restart.
“It’s on our players’ minds, it’s on our coaches’ minds, it’s on our staff’s minds and our organization’s mind,” Budenholzer said.
“We have a playoff game that’s very important to us, but an incident like this is more important than anything we’re doing in Orlando. And I think there was a lot of talk before we came here that we need to continue this conversation. We need to be better as a country and have no more of these incidents and understand that Black lives matter.”
The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“While we do not have all of the details yet,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement, “what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”