Players, Teams and Leagues Respond to National Outcry. Some Win, Some Lose.

I’m not here to tell you how to think. Let’s face it, if we disagree about this you probably won’t be convinced by whatever I have to say anyway. There’s one right side of this issue, if you aren’t on it feel free to read something else on the site. If you’re out joining the protests, be smart, be safe, be peaceful. If you’re in law enforcement, join the fight, take a knee, protect and serve your community; failing that, please try to remember restraint. The whole world is watching you all.

Tremendous Outpouring of Support

Changing minds must seem less daunting to our nation’s athletes and celebrities, with some taking to social media and some directly to the streets. The pain and anger on display across the nation was visceral, perhaps no more so than with the response of former NBA player Stephen Jackson, a friend of the victim, George Floyd, who was close enough to refer to the man as his “twin.” Jackson traveled to Minneapolis over the weekend to be on hand for demonstrations and made emotional pleas for justice. He was joined at one point by the Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns, who is still recovering from personal tragedy while dealing with a national one.

Several prominent Boston Celtics were seen in the news. Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours to be in Atlanta over the weekend, where he led protest marches and used his celebrity to help create dialogue and get stories out on a broader scale.

Brown was joined on the streets of Atlanta by Malcolm Brogdon, who surely made his grandfather proud, but probably also a little sad at the amount of progress still to be made after two generations of protest.

Celtics Center Enes Kanter is a wanted man and landed on several death lists for standing in brave opposition to the strongman running his native Turkey, he took some of those skills to the streets of Boston on Sunday, imploring people to “be on the right side of history.”

On Thursday, former NFL quarterback and modern civil rights hero Colin Kaepernick tweeted his support for the growing movement.

Statements from the NBA’s GOAT Crowd

Kaepernick was later invoked in one of the more powerful statements from an athlete, LeBron James, whose Instagram post of kneeling in tragic contrast is breathtaking. This is how you protest. This is not how you police.

Several other members of the NBA’s GOAT debate (it’s not a debate, it’s M.J.) added their thoughts to the rising chorus, with Vanessa Bryant standing in for Kobe by posting an absolutely heartbreaking photo.

Jordan and long-time partner Nike partnered to release a powerful statement, with the sneaker manufacturer imploring Americans not to turn their back on racism, tweaking their slogan to “Don’t Do It”

The General Manager of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, penned a powerful op-ed for The Globe and Mail, saying: “No one can deny the police have a tough job. But they are peace officers. They are supposed to protect all of us. This is the profession they chose. I didn’t see any peace or protection when that officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. I saw indifference.”

Leagues Weigh-in

The WNBA released a strong message condemning systemic racism:

As did the NHL

The league that sparked the biggest reaction with their statement during the protests was hands-down the NFL. While the heart of the statement is in the right place and the PR hack who wrote it for them did a good job, the tone-deaf nature of this statement in light of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick and the kneeling issue in general made this tough to swallow. As was apparent from league-wide player response, best summed up by wide receiver Kenny Stills.


Tennis legend Serena Williams posted a moving speech to her Instagram account. The speaker is a child questioning why she would be viewed as different. If you can make it through this without feeling anything, we really have nothing to discuss while protests are going on.

A name that may become more familiar to you in the coming years, Coco Gauff, added her thoughts from the tennis world.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Dale Murphy’s son appears to have been one of the great many victims of police violence during the protest against police violence.

Murphy followed up to say that first responders and doctors were able to save his son’s eye. This was unfortunately not the case for countless people across the country, including far too many journalists, who were being targeted by police live on television with alarming frequency all weekend.

The Whole World is Watching

A common refrain in protests is “the whole world is watching.” This was clearly true based on the response from several international soccer stars.

Instead of ending on a downer …

There are an absolute ton of messages out there. This was a very small sample. Nearly all of the messaging during the weekend protests was positive and uplifting. Athletes, teams, organizations, leagues, and fans nationwide poured their grief and anger into statements creating a national dialogue and a historical record of this long week in our tragic history.

I was originally going to include some of the limited amount of loser responses. Whether these people were acting out of confusion, hatred or just plain old stupidity (we see you, Aubrey Huff) remains to be seen, but those messages are out there for you to find if you want to read them. I, for one, don’t want to give their fires more oxygen.

Instead, in the hopes of ending with a smile, here’s a reminder that man’s best friend is still here to save us all.

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