The sole indictment from the Breonna Taylor case in Louisville, K.Y. is making waves across the United States, including in the NBA.
Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron on Wednesday announced a grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for “wantonly and blindly” firing into Taylor’s apartment on March 13. No other officers were indicted relative to the incident that left Taylor, 26, dead in her own apartment.
News of the indictment came out just hours before the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat tipped off Game 4 of their Eastern Conference finals series, which the C’s ultimatley lost 112-109. And, naturally, it had a significant emotional impact on some the players.
Celtics guard Kemba Walker, for instance, had a hard time putting his feelings into words — even after the game had ended.
“I can’t wrap my head around it, to be honest,” Walker said during his postgame video press conference, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “I’m kind of at a loss for words, to be honest with you. It’s a really sad situation. I just really feel bad for her and her family. They definitely deserve more. They deserve justice. And it didn’t happen. But we as people, we have to stand strong with them and support them as best we can. I wish the best for that family.”
Jayson Tatum echoed much of Walker’s sentiments.
“It’s sad,” he said. “It’s frustrating. 194 days and still no justice, still having to fight for the same thing, it was just a lot to process.”
Jaylen Brown was particularly emotional about the verdict. Brown, as you likely remember, was one of the most active players during this spring’s protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. on May 25.
But when he caught wind of the city’s preparations ahead of the upcoming announcement, he “knew the wrong decision was probably being made.”
“It’s tough,” Brown said. “To be honest, I wasn’t surprised by the verdict. It is, you know, it’s tough. It’s hard to gather the words, but I wasn’t surprised. … It was tough getting emotionally ready for the game, but to be honest I wasn’t surprised.”
Head coach Brad Stevens was well aware of the impact the news likely would have on his team, especially those like Brown who’ve been active in promoting social justice and racial equality.
So, he reached out to his players before the game began.
“I just sent them a text midday — because everybody’s got their own thing that they do during the day of the game — and I just said, ‘If you need somebody to vent to or need somebody to talk to or you want to call or get me in-person at the gym, feel free,” Stevens said during his pregame video press conference.
Celtics players, of course, aren’t the only ones in the NBA speaking up about the decision. Players like LeBron James, Donovan Mitchell, Danny Green, Jamal Crawford and Isaiah Thomas are among those who have made their voices heard in some way following Wednesday’s news. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and NBAPA executive Michele Roberts took to social media with their takes, as well.
But actions speak louder than words. And Brown wants to see some movement on the issues sooner rather than later.
Until then, he believe incidents like this will continue.
“I think that this society, the way it was built and the way its intentions was to never protect and serve people of color, initially. … Until we dismantle, recreate, or you know, change this system that we have, it’s going to continue to have victims like Breonna Taylor and others that fall victim to oppression.”