'I had tears running down my face': Kyle Korver discusses what led to Bucks' playoff walkout

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

Speaking at his alma mater Creighton University last weekend, Milwaukee Bucks forward Kyle Korver opened up about the Bucks’ fateful decision to walk out of their playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The Bucks’ protest walkout led the rest of the NBA’s playoff teams to sit out in protest, and spread to other sports as well.

Blake was shot multiple times by Milwaukee police, so Bucks players had a strong connection to the incident. However, Korver said that the locker room had been “raw” for days due to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. Blake’s shooting stirred up emotions even more, and led to an intense team meeting where they decided to walk out together.

‘We’re all with you’

Korver described the atmosphere before the playoff game, and instead of being hyped and excited, everyone’s mind was somewhere else. Assistant coach Darvin Ham, Korver said, was in tears thinking about his sons possibly suffering the same fate as Blake. With time ticking down before the game was scheduled to begin, Ham exploded with emotion in the coach’s room, which set everybody off — including Korver.

“I just sat there with tears running down my face,” Korver said. “And I'm looking at my jersey that says ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and I'm like, ‘What are we doing?’”

According to Korver, guard George Hill was the first Bucks player to say he wasn’t going to play. Sterling Brown, who was tased and arrested by Milwaukee police in 2018 over a simple parking issue, joined him and said he also wasn’t going to play.

“[Brown] stood up and he’s like ‘You guys don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but me and George are going to sit out tonight,’” Korver said.

That broke the dam, and every other Bucks player joined them in solidarity.

“We all just sat there and were like, ‘We're all with you.’”

When this went down, there were just 13 minutes left before the game. Korver said that they all sat there together and let the clock run out.

Korver understood his role

Korver understood that as a white man, his job wasn’t to give his opinion or even share his thoughts on what was going on. He focused solely on helping, and that involved personal reflection and a lot of listening.

“It’s always interesting for me as a white man in these spaces. What to do? How do I help as a white man? What do I say as a white man in this space?

“You know what you do? You stand with the marginalized. And when you can, you amplify their voice, and you listen to their thoughts, and you listen to their ideas, and then you find your way to help out.”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 24: Kyle Korver #26 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates with teammate Marvin Williams #20 after an NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Orlando Magic Monday at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 24, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 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 Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Kyle Korver said he had tears running down his face when the Bucks came to the emotional decision to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake by walking out of their playoff game. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

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