Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours to lead a march in Atlanta protesting the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. His Boston Celtics teammate, Enes Kanter, attended a protest at the Massachusetts State House. Stephen Jackson, whose NBA career lasted 14 years, led a protest in Minneapolis, where he was joined by Minnesota Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie. New York Knicks' Dennis Smith Jr and Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris participated in separate protests in Fayetteville, and Philadelphia.
Floyd, a black man, died last Monday after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck while he cried out for help. The incident, captured on video and shared millions of times on social media, and has ignited mass unrest in USA with multiple cities seeing protesters taking to the streets, outraged over the latest incident of police brutality against a black man.
"I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community," said Brown, who is a vice-president of the National Basketball Players Association. "This is a peaceful protest. Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don't exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I'm a black man and I'm a member of this community. [...] We're raising awareness for some of the injustices that we've been seeing. It's not OK. (sic)"
Other NBA superstars like LeBron James and the legendary Michael Jordan took to social media to raise their voice. "Why Doesn't America Love US!!!!!????TOO. (sic)," tweeted Lakers star James, one of the most powerful athlete voices in USA.
"George Floyd was clearly murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. How many times do we have to see black men killed on national television? This has been going on for entirely too long. We need to start seeing black people as human beings and not animals on the street," Magic Johnson tweeted.
"These men are our fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, human beings treated inhumanely by those who are supposed to protect and serve. Where are we supposed to put the range of emotions we experience seeing black men die on video?"
Even Jordan, who has at times been accused of not speaking out enough over political issues, put out a statement on his social media channels. "I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry," the NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner tweeted.
"I see and feel everyone's pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of colour in our country. We have had enough."
Meanwhile, NBA teams also took to Twitter in an unprecedented show of strength to speak out against the atrocities. Reigning champions Toronto Raptors tweeted: "¦while we grieve for those we have lost, we know grieving is not enough. We must honour their memory by acknowledging these ills exist, confronting them and coming together to create a better society. It is far past time."
Raptors' president Masai Ujiri also wrote an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail where he recollected how he had been stopped by a police officer while he was trying to get on the court after the Raptors had won the title last season.
"I recognize what happened in Oakland last June is very different from what happened in Minneapolis last Monday. My own experience only cost me a moment; Mr. Floyd's experience cost him his life," he wrote.
"It's been really demoralising to feel the divide that exists in the country, and especially when that divide is exacerbated by our President on a daily basis, on an hourly basis. I'm frustrated, I'm humiliated, but I'm also determined to try to do more," Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr told 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show.
Statement from the Golden State Warriors pic.twitter.com/Ath72t6mjT
" Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 30, 2020
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers tweeted:
Timberwolves, the franchise based in Minnesota which was the city where Floyd was killed, tweeted the following:
We're not gonna normalize this.
We're not gonna feel desensitized to this.
We're not going anywhere. pic.twitter.com/9vjUBJCeHj
" Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) May 31, 2020