By Milwaukee Courier Staff
The Milwaukee Bucks were honored at the White House by President Joe Biden for their NBA Championship last Monday. This was the first time in nearly five years that an NBA championship team was honored, after the tradition was put on hold during the Trump presidency.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2021 NBA Finals MVP and Bucks star player, spoke about how grateful he was to have this opportunity.
“With hard work, with sacrifices…if you dedicate yourself, wake up every day and try and get better in anything you do, anything you love and believe in your dreams, you can accomplish great things in life,” he said.
Antetokounmpo has overcome tremendous obstacles to get to where he is today, and he is one of the many reasons why the City of Milwaukee and the Bucks have seen a resurgence in recent years.
Biden praised the Bucks championship run, but also took time to commend the Bucks players for taking a stand when they organized a walkout in the summer of 2020 during the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic to call attention towards the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The players’ walkout in game five set off a cascade of teams boycotting their games and effectively shutting down professional sports in the United States.
The White House visit was also a chance for players and team officials to engage in a policy discussion with White House staff. Several players discussed voting rights, criminal justice and police reform with the Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, Susan Rice. These players showed once again that the Bucks organization is bigger than basketball and emphasized the role they play in our community.
“We are grateful to President Biden for hosting us at the White House and shining a light on all the ways that the Bucks players and organization has impacted Wisconsin,” Bucks Senior Vice President and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alex Lasry, said. “Our White House visit once again emphasized how much bigger this is than basketball. This team truly is a championship team on and off the court. Whether it’s our work on racial and social justice, voting rights, or our community outreach, the Bucks play a vital role in the larger Milwaukee community.”
The Bucks’ championship season showed how sports can bring people together. The world watched Milwaukee as tens of thousands of people from different races, ethnicities, ages and political affiliations, came together night after night to cheer the Bucks on in the Deer District. The NBA Championship brought worldwide attention, visitors and a new level of respect to Milwaukee.
“The world saw what we already know – that Milwaukee is a world class city that can host the biggest events and compete on any stage,” Lasry said. “This is a place where people want to come work, live and raise a family.”