Why Floyd’s death has res­onated within NBA

Times Standard (Eureka) - - SPORTS - By Kyle Goon South­ern Cal­i­for­nia News Group

Le­gions of fans have been wait­ing for months to see NBA play­ers gather again in the same build­ing — but not like this.

The scene at Min­neapo­lis City Hall was grim and somber, as Stephen Jack­son — flanked by Karl-An­thony Towns, Gary Trent Jr. and Josh Oko­gie, among oth­ers — spoke pas­sion­ately and painfully about Ge­orge Floyd, the man he called “my twin” for their close phys­i­cal re­sem­blance.

Floyd’s death is now fa­mous na­tion­wide after a video was re­leased show­ing his ar­rest. While Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer Derek Chau­vin pinned him to the ground with his knee across Floyd’s neck, Floyd com­plained that he couldn’t breathe be­fore even­tu­ally ap­pear­ing to pass out. By­standers ask­ing Chau­vin to stop the choke­hold were largely ig­nored. Floyd was later pro­nounced dead at a lo­cal hos­pi­tal.

“A lot of times, when po­lice do things they know that’s wrong, the first thing they try to do is cover it up, and bring up their back­ground to make it seem like the (ex­ple­tive) that they did was wor­thy,” said Jack­son, a 14-year NBA vet who once played for the War­riors. “When was mur­der ever wor­thy? But if it’s a black man, it’s ap­proved.”

The mo­men­tum of out­rage of Floyd’s death, how­ever, has spurred con­se­quences. Four of­fi­cers in­volved in the ar­rest were fired; as of Fri­day, Chau­vin had been ar­rested and charged with third-de­gree mur­der. Protests sparked through­out the coun­try, with at least seven peo­ple

shot in Louisville and the de­struc­tion of a po­lice precinct in Min­neapo­lis. Pub­lic of­fi­cials have been caught be­tween at­tempt­ing to em­pathize with the frus­tra­tion of cit­i­zens tired of the deaths of black peo­ple at the hands of po­lice, while also hop­ing to main­tain a sense of or­der as riots have es­ca­lated.

While NBA stars have long been vo­cal about this par­tic­u­lar is­sue, per­haps most mem­o­rably dat­ing back to the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the NBA is par­tic­u­larly close to this case. In ad­di­tion to be­ing Jack­son’s friend, Floyd died in Min­neapo­lis, an NBA mar­ket. While in an­other year, the NBA play­offs might keep some oc­cu­pied from speak­ing out on so­cial is­sues, with the league on hia­tus, off-court in­ter­ests are es­pe­cially piqued, and frus­tra­tion is be­ing ex­pressed through­out the NBA about Floyd’s death and other sim­i­lar cases in the last few months.

The scale of these re­sponses has spread through­out whole or­ga­ni­za­tions. In an in­ter­nal memo re­ported by The At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion, the At­lanta Hawks an­nounced they would bring in a di­ver­sity ex­pert to con­duct a work­shop for com­pany em­ploy­ees, and in­vited any­one dis­turbed by the high-pro­file deaths to speak out. But many are re­act­ing as in­di­vid­u­als, as con­cerned cit­i­zens dis­mayed by what they see as a chronic in­jus­tice.

“It’s a sad thing to see young mi­nori­ties be­ing mur­dered on cam­era by peo­ple sup­posed to pro­tect us,” Lak­ers guard Quinn Cook told the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia News Group. “You don’t know what can hap­pen. We need to pray for our coun­try, pray for Ge­orge Floyd and his fam­ily, and we have to keep be­ing a voice for rea­son.”

There’s a ten­sion for black ath­letes be­tween the game and league.

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