Did the Milwaukee Bucks Help Joe Biden Win Wisconsin?

Former Milwaukee Bucks head coach George Karl believes the team's social efforts deserve credit for Joe Biden's victory in Wisconsin.

The Democratic presidential state carried the crucial swing state, which President Donald Trump had flipped red four years ago.

Biden, who was also declared the winner in Michigan, another crucial state of the so-called Blue Wall that had voted Republican in 2016, trailed in Wisconsin as vote counting began but made up ground and was declared the winner 49.4 percent to 48.8 percent with over 98 percent of votes counted.

Karl was pleased with the result, which is being contested by the Trump campaign, and attributed it to the Bucks players' efforts in campaigning for social justice and racial equality, a message he felt was particular resounding with the young voters.

Good to see Wisconsin flip in this Election.

I like to believe the Bucks efforts this summer in helping prioritize social justice had an impact here, especially with younger voters!

— George Karl (@CoachKarl22) November 4, 2020

"Good to se Wisconsin flip in this election," the veteran NBA head coach tweeted.

"I like to believe the Bucks effort this summer in helping prioritize social justice had an impact here, especially with younger voters."

In the wake of George Floyd's killing on May 25, several NBA players were vocal in demanding social changes and calling for an end to racial discrimination.

In response, the league allowed players the opportunity to choose between 29 social justice messages to wear on their jerseys when the season resumed in the bio-secure bubble in Orlando, Florida, following a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Black Lives Matter logo, meanwhile, was painted on all the courts used in the remaining regular season games and in the playoffs.

The Bucks, however, took social protests further than any other team involved in the restart when they boycotted Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic on August 26, following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

A Black man, Blake was left paralyzed after being shot in the back at point-blank range seven times by a police officer as he opened the door of his car, with his three children in the back seat. Coming just three months after Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department as an officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, Blake's shooting reignited nationwide protests.

Secluded in the bubble in Orlando, NBA players felt powerless to make a statement and Bucks guard George Hill voiced his colleagues' frustration when he suggested the NBA should have never restarted the season given the social tension across the U.S.

With limited opportunities to make their voices heard, Bucks players opted to take action into their own hands to demand justice and boycotted the game against the Magic, with the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers following suit.

"We fully support our players and the decision they made," Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a statement.

"Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change."

Fiserv Forum, the Bucks' home arena, was expected to be used as an in-person absentee voting site, before the Milwaukee Election Commission opted against it.

"Unfortunately, the addition of these two sites could be legally challenged due to a recent court ruling, and we don't want to do anything that could risk a City of Milwaukee voter's ballot [not] being counted," Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director, Claire Woodall-Vogg said in a statement last month.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is introduced in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Orlando Magic during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 29 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Bucks boycotted Game 5 of the series to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake. Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts