‘Players are more than players’ | Kings host 5th annual Team Up for Change event
In 2019, the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks partnered together to launch Team Up for Change, an initiative with the goal of activating the community around social justice commitments and racial equality.
The two teams came together on this effort because of events that happened in both communities five years ago. In January 2018, former Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tackled and tasered by Milwaukee police. Months later in Sacramento, Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police. Both men were unarmed.
Monday’s summit featured multiple panel discussions focused on leadership, breaking barriers, women’s voices in social justice and more. Speakers included Sacramento Kings Chief Operating Officer Matina Kolokotronis, California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber and Assemblymember Akilah Weber, NYT bestselling author Dr. Anna Malika Tubbs, and more.
Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst spoke not only about Sterling Brown, but about the team’s decision not to play a playoff game in the bubble after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Wisconsin.
“Something different had to happen,” Horst said of the Bucks’ decision not to play, which, he believes, led to the NBA’s stronger commitment toward social justice initiatives.
Manonne Butler, the Head of Programs and Partnerships of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, pointed to the league’s efforts last year when the NBA did not schedule any games on election day.
“This is marathon work, not sprint work,” Butler said.
Although he couldn’t be there in person, Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement that this year’s event “is an important opportunity to reflect on the steps we’ve taken over these past five years to address racial inequality and promote social justice through education, advocacy and policy change.”
“This year, we are particularly proud to use our platform to amplify the contributions of women at the forefront of the social justice movement,” Ranadivé. said in his statement. “The work continues, and the Kings remain as committed as ever to partnering with local leaders, advocates, and policymakers to promote positive community change.”
During the event, the Sacramento Kings showed their commitment with action, donating $20,000 to The Center at Sierra Health Foundation for their work with the Kings and Queens Rise Youth Mentoring and Sports League and $15,000 to Sacramento Area Youth Speaks.