MILWAUKEE -- The NFL and its players got a lot of attention Sunday, September 24th responding to President Donald Trump's comments about players who kneel or sit during the national anthem. Members of the Milwaukee Bucks organization entered into that discussion Monday, September 25th.
The Bucks have some players who've been outspoken in the past on social issues and those players did not hold back Monday. The words from the team's owners, meanwhile, could be described as cautious yet supportive.
At the team's media day event Monday, Bucks players flashed smiles for photos. Some of them then painted a picture of athletes troubled by President Trump's criticism of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem as an act of protest. That includes NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, who played his college ball in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia.
"Everything starts at the top," Brogdon said, "We have to have a leader that wants to unify people, that doesn't want to, you know, pull people apart and if we don't have a leader that is going to try to do that then it's gonna be a tough road."
This weekend, President Trump tweeted that Golden State Warriors star player Stephen Curry was hesitating to accept an invitation to the White House so he rescinded the team's invite. The NBA league's most popular player, Lebron James, responded by calling the President a "bum", saying players wanted to visit until Trump became president.
Bucks forward Jabari Parker said athletes should use their platform to highlight problems they see in society.
"Anybody with any responsibility has an opportunity to create change and to take a side and you have good and you have bad. It's no in-between," Parker said.
Parker said he was not surprised by President Trump's words about the NFL player protests.
"Basically, that’s the narrative of Mr. Trump and that’s the type of person he is," Parker said.
Brogdon said he also believes professional athletes can use their positions to promote discussions about social issues.
"There’s a lot of hateful things, a lot of racist, you know, themes going around right now but, you know, I think it’s important for athletes to continue to speak out and step up to use their platform and I think as we continue to come together, unify, I think we can make progress," he said.
The Bucks owners did not address the President's words directly, instead said sports can unite communities.
"We encourage diversity of opinion. We support our players, we support our staff," Co-owner Wes Edens said, "The issues that are raised are not simple, single-dimensional issues and we want to be good listeners and really provide the platform so people feel they can speak openly and we support that."
The team's head coach, Jason Kidd, echoed that the organization encourages its players to be open about their beliefs.
"We encourage our players to talk," Kidd said, "We don’t look at them as just basketball players or athletes. They are human and they do have feelings."
Brogdon said the Bucks will have a meeting to consider the idea of a team demonstration.
"I think that’s a discussion we’re gonna have to have," Brogdon said, "Whatever we do, we’re gonna do it as one."