As supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and scenes from Washington D.C. dominated television and social media on Wednesday, many in the NBA were left with the difficult task of weighing the importance of basketball.
Shortly before the Miami Heat were set to host the Boston Celtics the two teams held a players-only meeting in the Heat locker room, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Before the game was set to tip off, the teams left the court together.
Celtics players were engaged in a players-only meeting within the last 45 minutes in Miami locker room, source tells ESPN. https://t.co/JTBEk6qHiu— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 7, 2021
Before returning to the court to play, the Heat and Celtics released a joint statement that referenced the unrest in Washington and Tuesday’s news that no charges would be filed against officers involved in the August shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed,” the statement read. “We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on. The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do.
“We have decided to play tonight’s game to try to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America. #BLACKLIVESSTILLMATTER.”
Prior to the Utah Jazz’s contest against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder opened up his pregame media availability by acknowledging the events in Washington.
“It’s obviously really disturbing,” Snyder said. “There’s so much to process right now and your hope is that there can become some peaceful resolution, but obviously it’s on all of our minds.”
After the game, Jazz guard Mike Conley said that he continues to try to push a message of hope but after seeing what happened in the Capitol, it’s getting difficult to be hopeful.
“What happened today is disgusting in so many different ways,” he said. “Never in my lifetime I thought I would see that kind of act. It makes me scared for my kids growing up and their futures. I want to push out hope, I want everybody to be hopeful that things will be better, but you know there’s still people out there that will behave this way. It’s unfortunate to see that happen today.”
National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts spoke to ESPN on Wednesday and noted the stark contrast between the treatment of protesters that stormed the U.S. Capitol and those who protested police brutality and racial injustice during the spring and summer.
“On a day like this, it’s the first thing that comes to mind,” she said. “And all I can say is that I’m grateful knowing that hopefully nobody who looks like me is going to Capitol Hill to respond to this, because if they do, you’ll see a different response by law enforcement. You know it — and I know it.”
Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson echoed Roberts’ sentiments, noting that what happened in D.C. didn’t look like something that was real, but rather something out of a movie.
“You know what those people have done today and there was no consequences for them at all,” Clarkson said. “Even though on the other side it would have been a different story I feel like. It would have ended in multiple deaths, arrests, anything and it’s just kind of a crazy situation that is just mind-blowing.”
Multiple NBA teams made shows of unity on Wednesday night in light of the recent events. The Golden State Warriors and visiting Los Angeles Clippers knelt and locked arms during the national anthem.
The Suns and Raptors lock arms in a unified circle for the Canadian and U.S. anthems. pic.twitter.com/SKspSayvTO— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 7, 2021
The Toronto Raptors and host Phoenix Suns all locked arms in a circle around center court during the U.S. and Canadian anthems.
After the Milwaukee Bucks won the tipoff against the visiting Detroit Pistons, the Bucks volunteered a turnover and all the players knelt on the court while the Bucks coaching staff also knelt.
I look forward to the day when these statements aren't necessary. It'll be really nice if a gesture like this can move at least one person in a positon of authority to an awakening. Folks are tired of making the same pleas & having the same conversations. pic.twitter.com/upiRqbzyJd— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) January 7, 2021
Detroit News reporter Rod Beard said that Pistons coach Dwane Casey spoke with Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer prior to the game about kneeling on the first possession as an acknowledgement of Blake and to support Blake’s family.