NBA

Bucks coach on Rittenhouse verdict: Fight for better

Mike Budenholzer made the franchise's position clear in the wake of the controversial acquittal.

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Bucks coach on Rittenhouse verdict: Fight for better

As the country comes to terms with the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, there is one team in the NBA who wants to see change.

Bucks coach wants to fight for better

Speaking with the press, Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said the organization would "continue to fight for better," His comments of course came in the wake of a jury's verdict on Friday that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges against him. He shot and killed two men and wounded a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. For the Bucks, this isn't the first time that they have made their stance known where the societal issues are concerned. Previously they held a wildcat strike during the NBA's playoff bubble in Orlando, just days after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man. Incidentally it was at the following protests over said police violence at which Rittenhouse shot the three men. Approaching their game against Oklahoma, Budenholzer was preparing for a team conversation on the topic.

"Still trying to push for better in our country," Budenholzer said. "Hoping for improvement. Organizationally, just continue to fight for social justice, for better. But at the same time, have to abide by the jury and the decision and the verdict and continue to fight for better."

What exactly was Rittenhouse accused of?

In the wake of the tragic events in Kenosha, Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering after killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Hubewhir, 26, while wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28. He was carrying and using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle at the time.

Rittenhouse - who is white along with the men that he shot - pleaded self-defense. Had he been convicted on the most serious charge of first-degree murder, he would have received life in prison. His fate was decided by an anonymous jury, the racial composition of which was not disclosed to the public. It is widely reported, however, that the jury which took three and a half days to deliberate, was predominantly white.

The Bucks and their social justice stance

For their part the Bucks have made their position on the entire scenario quite clear. In January, the Bucks and Detroit Pistons both took a knee on the court for seven seconds after tip-off and then rolled the ball out of bounds. The gesture was performed in response to a posecutors decision to not file charges against Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey who shot Blake. Blake was shot seven times.

While he didn't elaborate on specific opinions or internal conversations within the Bucks team, it was clear that Budenholzer and the rest of the franchise had a personal interest in how the events of Friday's decision played out. "Obviously it was very closely connected with the Jacob Blake case and the connection to everything that transpired while we were in Orlando in the bubble," Budenholzer said.

Other NBA coaches weigh in on Rittenhouse case

As the news spread and police presence in some places - like the Barclays Center - increased, there was an echoing of the the sentiments laid out by Budenholzer.  "Clearly these situations are disappointing and it's important to not become demoralized and for people to continue to fight for the type of justice and equality that serves all," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "While I think it raises a lot of eyebrows, questions, a lot of pain, we recognize there has to be a path forward. It can't be, 'well this is just the way it is,' and so I think the movement that we've experienced, one way or the other, is pushing change. Even if you can't see that change on a daily basis or even year by year, over the course of time, without that type of attention and willpower to come together and fight for a brighter future, I think there would be no change, and it's paramount in the seeds of change. So I think these are always opportunities for us to look in the mirror."

There was also Warriors coach Steve Kerr who took the opportunity to raise his concerns about gun laws prior in the country as Golden State prepared to face Detroit on Friday. "The fact that we are seemingly OK with a teenager's right to take an AR-15 into an area where there is civil unrest, that's really scary and concerning," Kerr said. "This is where we are with gun laws. This is why we have to have safer gun laws in place to protect ourselves, to protect each other. "It wasn't a shocking verdict, but one that poses great risk going forward if we continue to go down this path of open carry and states determining that eople can carry, even underagepeople, weapons of war. This is America. Treading down a dangerous path."

Kerrs' comments were in direct reference to one of the charges laid against Rittenhouse. At the time of the shooting Rittenhouse was 17. Having traveled from his home in Illinois, to Kenosha, the teenager had been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Though a misdemeanor, it seemed likely to result in a conviction. The charge, however, was thrown out after Rittenhouse's defense successfully argued that the Wisconsin law did not apply to the long-barreled rifle used by Rittenhouse.