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Bucks’ players make ‘new friends’ at Special Olympics clinic: ‘It’s a highlight of our season’

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MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks holding the best record in the NBA has led to excitement around the city and state, and on Feb. 22, some of the players created excitement for athletes with Special Olympics of Wisconsin.

The athletes filled the gym at Homestead High School on the night dedicated to basketball -- a sport they love.

"Basketball is my favorite," said Diego, Special Olympics.

These athletes got to hang out with Tony Snell, Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez, who were on hand to make this night even more special.

Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova, Tony Snell

Abby Spence

"We're just hosting a clinic, running through some stations, running through some drills, but really we are having a great time making new friends and just enjoying ourselves," said Lopez.

More than 120 athletes from 13 teams got some tips to help their game moving forward.

"Just practicing how to shoot and shoot better," said Abby Spence, Special Olympics.

Supporting these athletes is a passion for Lopez and the other players.

Brook Lopez

"All the participants, they've brought so much energy, so much joy. It's just a pleasure to be a part of and I'm just out here having the best time right now," said Lopez. "I've seen some athletes that have really impressed me. I was over at the dribbling skills challenge station, and they were pulling down some moves. Kind of blew my mind a little bit. It really impressed me."

The annual event is something participants and organizers always circle on the calendar.

Jason Blank

Gene Peterson

"It's a highlight of our season, where our athletes get a chance to get out of their normal practice and participate with, not only the Milwaukee Bucks' players, but with their clinic team, as well as other staff from the Bucks, and have a really entertaining and fun night," said Jason Blank with Special Olympics of Wisconsin.

"Obviously they know all the Bucks' players. They have their shirts, and with the success of the Bucks this year, it is tremendous for them," said Gene Peterson, Ozaukee County Special Olympics coach.

It was a night no one involved would soon forget.

"So much fun coming out here. They are really an incredible group of people. I'm just fortunate enough and happy enough to be a part of it," said Lopez.

"They are great with our athletes. You can see the smiles on our athletes' faces, but you can also see the smiles on the players' faces, and that's what really makes it special," said Blank.

The Bucks also donated tickets to a game at Fiserv Forum for these athletes.

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