Alex Lasry, 33-year-old son of billionaire Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, announced Wednesday that he’s running as a Democrat for the Wisconsin U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Ron Johnson, 65-year-old son-in-law of a billionaire. The younger Lasry is the Bucks’ senior vice president of strategy and operations, and his experience as a Bucks executive appears to be his campaign’s big sell. Lasry’s announcement video cites his role in ensuring sustainable and labor-friendly construction of the Bucks’ arena. (He neglects to mention that the Bucks owners basically blackmailed the state of Wisconsin for $250 million in public money to build it.) The campaign website also touts Lasry’s “transformation” of the Bucks franchise as proof “that you can run a successful business with progressive values” and commends him for “consistently raising the level of the team’s racial and social justice activism.”
If Lasry’s name is familiar, it might be because he was credited for orchestrating a call between Bucks players and two Wisconsin elected officials this past Aug. 26, the day the Bucks decided not to play their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha—a stoppage that brought the sports world to a halt.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the news of the Bucks’ intended forfeit at 4:13 p.m. EDT that day. (The game was scheduled to tip off at 4:00.) Bucks players remained in their locker room after making their decision, and public records obtained through requests we filed with Wisconsin’s governor’s office and Department of Justice show that Lasry quickly began arranging for Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes to speak with the team. “Need to chat. You have a second?” Lasry texted Kaul at 4:18 p.m. EDT, after two calls went unanswered.
While waiting for Kaul’s response, Lasry published his own statement on behalf of the Bucks organization. “I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change,” Lasry tweeted at 4:42 p.m. EDT. He wasn’t 100 percent thrilled with Bucks players at the moment, though. In fact, he’d just scolded them or was about to. Four minutes after tweeting that endorsement of their stoppage, Lasry sent a text to a member of Kaul’s staff (the records don’t specify whom) to profusely apologize for news of the potential meeting with Kaul being leaked by players to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. “Jon Horst [the Bucks’ general manager] and I just yelled at the players. This was unacceptable … That was not ok by our players to leak that,” Lasry wrote after sending a screenshot of Charania’s tweet.
Lasry seemed in better spirits after the meeting with Kaul and Barnes. On the call, as Barnes himself told Slate’s Joel Anderson in an interview, Kaul and Barnes suggested the players could use their public platforms by pressuring the state legislature to address the governor’s proposed package of police reform legislation. When Sterling Brown and George Hill emerged from the Bucks locker room to read the team’s statement, Hill concluded by saying it was “imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
“Thanks man. Really really helpful … Also you saw the end of our statement? That was all you!” Lasry texted Barnes that evening. Later that night, he texted the Kaul staffer: “Just wanted to say thank you. Our guys really appreciated it and it helped them craft their statement. I owe you a championship ring if we get one ;)”