Jabari Parker did not start in the Bucks' loss to the Miami Heat Saturday, due to violating the team's rules. Coach Jason Kidd did not elaborate on the nature of the violation, but on Sunday, ESPN reported it was for discussing "locker room discourse" with the media:
Milwaukee is currently on a five-game losing skid. After dropping their fourth consecutive game on Friday in Orlando, the Bucks held a team meeting in which Parker became vocal in voicing his frustration with the lack of togetherness, sources said.
Afterward, in his postgame media address, Parker confirmed there was a team meeting and disclosed what the organization regarded as private, locker room dialogue.
"I spoke up for the first time, and it didn't go my way," Parker said to the media. "I was getting thrashed, but hey, as long as I give them another perspective, I did my job."
So Parker tried speaking up as a leader on the team, got shouted down, told reporters about getting shouted down, the team got mad and decided to bench him to start a game as punishment.
It's got to be confusing for a young player, not knowing where you're supposed to land on these things, and Parker is notably more vocal than most on pretty much every issue. He's an outspoken athlete who's comfortable talking to the media. Players, however, treat anything in the locker room as sacred. Typically when there's a players-only meeting, it gets leaked, the team is asked about it, they all say "It was good for us to talk about some things" and that's that. Parker positioned it as he tried to do the right thing and was shouted down, which is likely what bothered his teammates.
It's a weird dynamic, but a strong one. Hopefully this won't create any future fissures between Parker and his teammates.