Some of the loudest voices in the sports community condemning the death of George Floyd are coming from the NBA.
It’s a league with a strong history of not shying away from taking a stance on race issues, and despite being sidelined due to the coronavirus, teams are being more vocal than ever.
“The same way they influence people in athletics now they have a chance to influence people in the world and politicians and government leaders,” Raptors radio announcer Paul Jones told CityNews. “If that’s what it takes to get the change done then do it!”
From Minnesota to New York to Washington, NBA cities have witnessed massive protests in the streets over the last week.
Teams and players, past and present, are speaking out against racial injustice. The Washington Wizards released a united statement in response to the death of George Floyd saying:
“We will no longer tolerate the assassination of people of color in this country.”
“We will no longer accept the abuse of power from law enforcement.”
“We will no longer accept ineffective government leaders who are tone-deaf, lack compassion or respect for communities of color.”
“We will no longer shut up and dribble.”
A united statement from our players. pic.twitter.com/SGKSDw76zU
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 1, 2020
Boston Celtics Guard Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours to march along with protesters in Atlanta. Which is less than a 30-minute drive from where he was born in Marietta, Georgia.
Here in Canada, Raptors president Masai Ujiri wrote an op-ed for the Globe and Mail this weekend calling for justice, writing in part:
“So many of you are asking: What can I do? There is a sense of helplessness, but that must not paralyze us. Your voice matters, especially when you are a leader or influential figure, and especially if you are white. Leaders have to be bold enough to state the obvious and call out racism. The conversation can no longer be avoided because it is hard. We have to have it. Now.”
“I think the importance of people like Masai putting it out there and sharing his thoughts now, people want to hear it,” Jones said. “I’m sure there are other times when people don’t want to hear it. Well, that is your world, not mine. I feel bad for you but there is nothing I can do. But now we are starting to get the other sense of people becoming as concerned and outraged and frustrated as those experiencing it.”
Beyond the NBA, Winnipeg Jets player and Minnesota native Blake Wheeler issued a statement:
“We need to stand with the black community and fundamentally change how the leadership in this country has dealt with racism. I’m sorry it has taken this long, but I’m hopeful that we can change this NOW.”
The protests and discussions didn’t just stay in North America. Players from Germany’s Bundesliga also addressed Floyd’s killing over the weekend including Borussia’s Marcus Thuram taking a knee after scoring a goal, invoking 49er’s Quarterback Colin Kaepernick whose protest during the national anthem put racial inequality in the spotlight four years ago.
Marcus Thuram taking a knee.
That's the Tweet.
— Goal (@goal) May 31, 2020