After Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by police over the weekend in Wisconsin, protests against police brutality and racism have reignited.
Professional sports organizations in Wisconsin have released statements to express their outrage with the incident, and the Toronto Raptors reportedly have discussed boycotting Game 1 of their round-two series against the Boston Celtics, hoping to start a chain reaction, to put pressure on lawmakers and try and effect meaningful change.
And to no surprise, members of the Celtics on Tuesday voiced their frustration about the shooting as well. Here’s what coach Brad Stevens, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart had to say, via ESPN:
“Obviously our thoughts go to Jacob Blake and his family,” Stevens said. “And, obviously, that video was horrifying. That video was awful. And to think of three kids being in that car is like … that just makes you shaken, right? It’s ridiculous. … We’ve talked about it as a team and just how we feel. We haven’t talked about it enough, but obviously everybody is shook.
“There’s a reason why the guys, coaches, players, everyone here has chosen to really emphasize social justice and racial equality while we’re here (in Orlando). To think that this happens again.”
“It was hard enough even coming down here, to be honest,” Brown said. “But I guess (boycotting is) something you talk about with your team, for sure. We haven’t talked about that as the Celtics. But those emotions are real. That is real. Yes, we’re athletes. Yes, we’re being paid to play a sport that we love. But we are human beings, members of our community. We are fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, etc. So all those emotions are real, and I don’t really have a lot to say.
“I’m just happy by the grace of God that Jacob Blake is still alive, because the police who shot him, that wasn’t their intention. They shot him to kill him, and that’s a problem in this country. There’s a million different ways you could have dissolved that situation, and your thought was to kill him. That was the best method.
“It’s definitely hard to digest or to process how you feel about it. Everything on me was on fire yesterday, waking up to it. To see people changing the framing of what he did in the past, in terms of, ‘Well, he was a convicted felon,’ or, ‘Well, he had a history of resisting arrest or possibly had a weapon.’ That is not [an] unfamiliar framework in this country. We’ve seen that time and time again. That does not constitute or justify the fact that you are shooting someone seven times in the back or killing them, at all. Anybody who thinks differently is no friend of mine.”
“We tried to be peaceful, kneeling, we tried to protest,” Smart said, via ESPN. “And for us, we tried to come out here and get together and play this game and try to get our voice across. But it’s not working, so obviously something has to be done.
“Right now, our focus shouldn’t really be on basketball. I understand it’s the playoffs and everything like that, but we still have a bigger underlying issue that’s going on, and the things that we’ve tried haven’t been working. So we definitely need to take a different approach, and we definitely need to try new things out to get this thing working the way that we know it should and get our voices heard even more.”
The NBA has made it a point to keep attention on issues of police brutality and racism with its restart.