Orlando, August 30: Giannis Antetokounmpo explained how the Milwaukee Bucks' walkout unfolded as the NBA playoffs resumed on Saturday (August 29), with the Eastern Conference top seeds advancing to the second round.
The Bucks refused to play on Wednesday following the police shooting of Jacob Blake and their decision had a flow-on effect in the NBA and professional sports in the United States.
Amid protests against police brutality and racial inequality, NBA games scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were postponed, while there were also strikes in MLB, NHL, MLS and tennis tournament the Western & Southern Open.
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks returned to action on Saturday, defeating the Orlando Magic 118-104 in Game 5 to seal a 4-1 series victory in Orlando, Florida.
"We have a big platform, other leagues around the world will follow." pic.twitter.com/QjxjqrOYS3— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 30, 2020
Asked how the decision to skip Wednesday's game came about, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo told reporters: "I saw George [Hill] and Sterling [Brown]. George decided not to play the game, and he didn't put pressure to none of his team-mates. Not me. Not the coach.
"Sterling decided to do the same thing. He came in the locker room to talk to us, and I decided as a leader, as Giannis, that's who I am, I was like I'm not playing this game. I didn't want to play this game.
"I told coach I'm not playing this game. I can't leave my team-mates behind. They felt a type of way about all the frustration that was going on, it wasn't in the right space to play the game.
"A hundred percent fully support them. Win or lose, I support them. Going out there or not going out there, staying in the locker room, I support them. So, we decided as a team not to go out there, and that's how it happened."
Antetokounmpo posted 28 points and 17 rebounds against the Magic as the Bucks - who will next meet the Miami Heat at Walt Disney World Resort - eye a first championship since 1971.
"We made a powerful move decided not to play, decided to bring awareness," Antetokounmpo told ESPN post-game. "Just seeing other athletes around the world, other leagues doing the same thing. It says a lot about us, it says a lot about our league that gives us a platform to speak up."