I guess 2020 had a few more punches saved just as we thought we’d escaped. For a moment last night, the possibility of players sitting out games became real, as participants of a Trump rally stormed the Capitol. Steve Kerr broke the tension with a Pop-like pre-game comment.
I hope you don’t find Kerr’s dark humor as a sign of underestimating the situation; I don’t. It’s a statement that leaves no room for relativization or justification. By the way, the Warriors managed to keep Lou Williams to 3 points but still lost 108-101 vs. the Clippers.
The Celtics had a players-only meeting before their game against the Heat, and rumors of them sitting out the game appeared. That didn’t happen, as both teams came out to the court and kneeled during the anthem. Before the game, the teams issued a joint statement explaining their decision to play – they wanted to bring joy to fans and use their platform to make a statement. (Celtics won 107 – 105) After the game, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum echoed what a lot of players think and feel.
“It reminds me of what Dr. Martin Luther King has said, that there’s two split different Americas. In one America, you get killed by sleeping in your car, selling cigarettes or playing in your backyard. And then in another America, you get to storm the Capitol and no tear gas, no massive arrests, none of that. So, I think it’s obvious: It’s 2021 — I don’t think anything has changed. We want to still acknowledge that. We want to still push for the change that we’re looking for. But as of yet, we have not seen it. We want to continue to keep conversations alive and do our part.”Jalen Brown, MLG Highlights
An image of a police officer taking selfies with criminals who had just violently stormed the Capitol struck a nerve with most players and coaches. Doc Rivers shared the same sentiment, asking a rhetorical question, “Can you imagine today, if those were all black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened?” The image was particularly frustrating given that less than 24 hours ago, prosecutors decided not to file charges in the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, which inspired the stop in play during the Orlando bubble.
“To hear what happened in Kenosha today was a blow to the heart and to the gut, not only to that community but to us and to every Black person that has been a part of this process, seeing these outcomes for so long.”LeBron James, Tampa Bay Times
Unfortunately, yet again events outside the basketball court ruled the day. I hope things will resolve peacefully, and soon the only thing that matters will be what happens on the basketball court. Players made it clear – they will continue to play the game they love and bring joy to the fans. In the process, they will use the spotlight the game gives them to try and be a part of the solution.