Two of basketball’s most prominent modern voices are speaking out after Tuesday’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted on three separate charges involving the death of George Floyd in May 2020: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Former NBA star Dwyane Wade and current WNBA star Candace Parker, both of whom are Black, did not hesitate to weigh in as well during Tuesday’s edition of “NBA on TNT”. Neither basketball star held back, either.
Wade began the conversation with a heartbreaking admission.
“I know I speak for a lot of people in the world when I say I was sitting in front of the TV watching the verdict come down. And my hands start sweating, my body starts shivering and my heart starts pounding. Because I was nervous,” Wade said. “I was nervous because I didn’t believe, right? I’m sitting in front of the TV, and I didn’t believe. And even when the verdict came down and all charges that we wanted was met, I still was staring at the TV listening to the judge because I was thinking there was an out coming. Because we’ve never seen this, you know?
“And so, today showed to me the power of community. Today, it gave us some sort of — we’ve seen some sort of ability to see change, right? … And as Shaq (O’Neil) said, you can’t celebrate this. But if there was any win today, to me it was a win for accountability. That was the only win today was a win for accountability. And so, we have to continue to keep George Floyd’s family lifted up in our prayers. We have to continue to pray for healing for the Black community across the world.”
Parker later jumped in to offer her thoughts on the matter. (And don’t you dare tell her, or Wade for that matter, to “shut up and dribble” when it comes to this subject.)
“I think today, I like to flip channels,” Parker said, “because I think today, we only listen and we only hear and we only reach out to the people that agree with what we agree (with) and speak our same language. And so I like to go through different TV shows and hear what everybody thought about today. I think one quote that stuck out to me from (CNN’s) Van Jones when he said, ‘I woke up afraid to hope today. And it’s not OK when you wake up afraid to hope.
“I also think — just bringing this altogether of the community. We’re sitting here on a sports show speaking about justice and speaking about things that are going on in our court system. It’s not OK to just be a bystander of justice or our political system or democracy. And I think of democracy we think of as a destination and a continuous journey and it has to be thought of that way.”
Neither figure believes the job is done, though. And neither is backing down from the challenge, either.
“To me, we’ve got more work to do,” Wade said. “We all know that. There’s more work to do and so the work is not done. But today was definitely a good day to see accountability have its justice, have its moment.”
Parker expanded on that sentiment.
“Just because we are athletes, just because we are stay-at-home moms or businessmen or doctors or lawyers — whatever we are, we have to actively participate in that because if we don’t, we are not doing our job and we are failing the generation that comes after us.
“And I just think, if you look at the past and you look at the people before had to die and had to not receive justice for this to happen today. And I just think we can’t hide behind badges, money, power, race (and) gender. You can’t hide behind those things because that’s not justice and we are lying to ourselves if we continue to think that.”
But as Parker noted, the job is not done. This verdict only is one step toward further justice in similar situations, but that there still is much to be repaired.
“Although this was a step in the right direction, I think it’s really about accountability,” Parker said. “But it’s also (about) understanding that this isn’t it. There’s far more trials that are going other directions that shouldn’t, that don’t, that aren’t just. And so, yes. This is a step in the right direction, but we have so much more to go.”
Sentencing for the Chauvin will take place in eight weeks.