More than 1,000 miles away, tucked inside the NBA bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Milwaukee took a commanding 3-1 lead in its first-round playoff series against Orlando. But Hill refused to remain silent on a topic he felt was more important than the 121-106 victory.
“It’s just sickening. It’s heartless. It’s a f—ed-up situation. Like I said, you’re supposed to look at the police to protect and serve. Now, it’s looked at harass or shoot,” Hill said. “To almost take a guy’s life. Thank God he’s still alive. I know the cops are probably upset he’s still alive, because I know they surely tried to kill him. But to almost take a man’s life, especially in front of one’s kids, that wasn’t resisting, in his back at point-blank range, is a heartless and gutless situation. We need some justice for that.”
The shooting occurred Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Officers responding to a domestic disturbance shot a man later identified as Jacob Blake in the back seven times, as he tried to enter his vehicle. The incident was captured on social media and then shared by Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump.
Blake was hospitalized and in serious condition.
Police did not say whether Blake was armed or why police opened fire, they released no details on the domestic dispute, and they did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene.
Ahead of Game 4, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer addressed the shooting before taking any basketball-related questions.
“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. “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 also issued a statement addressing the situation.
“We have a systemic problem that we need to address,” he said, while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. “And we all need to educate ourselves. I think it’s important that we continue to think, continue to pursue policy change, continue to act. Because there’s violence happening that absolutely should not be happening. And we can’t stay quiet about it.”
“Our community is hurting. Our community is in for a rough couple of days.”
“I think we have to be a voice right now. And encourage people to understand what’s happening. And understand points that you don’t agree with.”
The Brewers also issued a statement.
The Bucks’ Hill said actions, not words, are what is needed for change.
“We can’t do anything. First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming just here took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we’re here, so it is what it is,” Hill said, referring to the NBA bubble. “We can’t do anything from right here, but I think definitely, when it’s all settled, some things have to be done. I think this world has to change. I think our police department has to change. Us as society has to change. And, right now we’re not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken, as we speak, day in and day out, and there’s no consequence or accountability for it, and that’s what has to change.”
Teammate Khris Middleton called for police to “stop shooting us.”
“This isn’t the first time this happened in my community. I’ve had two incidents in Charleston, South Carolina, with the shooting in the church and then the shooting of an unarmed black man running away from the police a couple years ago,” said Middleton, who wears Black Lives Matter on the back of his jersey here. “We’re doing everything we can, but at the end of the day, it’s up to our lawmakers, it’s up to our police department to stop shooting us. It’s that simple. It’s that. They’re there to provide safety. There’s different ways to de-escalate situations than shooting someone, especially running away or in the back.”
Budenholzer said he chose not to watch the graphic video, but said 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,” he 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.”
Information from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and The Associated Press was used in this report.