In January of 2019, Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Sterling Brown was thrown to the ground and tased over a late-night parking violation outside a Walgreens store in the Milwaukee area. Six police cars were called. In the body cam video Brown does not resist, nor was he ever charged in this situation. Brown filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department over the incident and, eventually, one of the officers was fired. The Milwaukee City Council approved the $400,000 settlement offer in the case, but Brown rejected it and the lawsuit is still in the courts.
Brown, like many NBA players, has a first-hand understanding of what is at stake with the Black Lives Matter and social justice movements gathering momentum nationwide. He, like a lot of players, wants to see actions and not just words from the league.
Brown also feels he can make an important impact with his voice from the “bubble” restart in Orlando, he told Eric Woodyard of ESPN.
“A lot of eyes will be on us while we’re in Orlando,” he told ESPN on Thursday. “People can actually see us and see our messages that we can give while we’re playing or at halftime, before a game or whatever. There’s a lot of ways to get out key messages and I feel like I want to take advantage of that. We’ve got a platform like none other. We’ve got resources like none other.
“I feel it’s important for me to continue to play to use my platform because my platform has given me a voice and it has allowed people to follow me and see me and it’s allowed people to become more passionate with the movement that’s going on.”
This is an ongoing debate among players: Does going to the NBA’s restart in Orlando become a distraction from the BLM movement, or does it give players a platform to keep the issue front and center? Former player Stephen Jackson, a childhood friend of George Floyd, has called the return a distraction. Other players, including Brown, see it more as an opportunity.
The buzz now is that most players are going to head to Orlando for the restart. It’s because they want to compete, because they think it is a good platform for social justice issues, and because of the financial ramifications of not playing.
Brown is going to be down at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex on the Disney property in Orlando. He will be using his voice and platform down there, and with Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Bucks teammates, chasing a title.