In the immediate aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake last August, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their Game 5 playoff matchup against the Orlando Magic. Other teams and organizations throughout the world soon followed suit, not only setting a precedent for unruly police behavior moving forward, but leaving a world in dire need of an escape without professional sports.
On Sunday, yet another unarmed Black man fell victim to a police shooting. During a traffic stop in the suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minn., 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by an “accidental discharge”—an all too frequent mishap that Black and Brown folks have come to realize only applies to us.
In response, protests have once again erupted throughout the country, while the sports world has offered opinions and reactions of its own.
ESPN reports that the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Wild all postponed their games on Monday. The Twins explained their decision in a statement.
“Out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Brooklyn Center, and following the additional details in this evolving situation, the Minnesota Twins have decided it is in the best interest of our fans, staff, players and community to not play today’s game,” the team wrote. “The Minnesota Twins organization extends its sympathies to the family of Daunte Wright.”
The National Basketball Players’ Association also issued a statement to The Root in response to the shooting:
“We mourn the death of Daunte Wright and pray for his family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time. Our hearts go out to the entire Minneapolis community as they struggle to process this latest tragedy together with the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin.”
On Twitter, athletes voiced their frustrations at the loss of yet another Black life at the hands of police:
New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks was reportedly so distraught by Wright’s completely unnecessary shooting death that he pulled himself out of the lineup on Monday. Teammate Giancarlo Stanton considered doing the same, but ended up playing in the Yankees 3-1 win.
“With all that’s going on in Minneapolis, [Hicks is] having a tough time right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed before the game. “Had a conversation in my office and he just felt like it was best to not be in the starting lineup tonight. And I certainly support that and we’ll and try to rally around him the best we can. Obviously, the situation is heartbreaking right now in Minneapolis. And I think it has hit Aaron particularly hard.”
Philadephia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, who has always been outspoken on matters related to racial injustice, spoke his mind on Monday night.
“I think we got to stop saying it’s frustrating for all Black Americans. I think we should be frustrated by all Americans,” he told Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. “You keep hearing this cancel culture stuff, but we’re canceling Black lives. To me, that’s a little more important, in my opinion, and it just keeps happening. We keep making mistakes on killing Black people.”
He continued, “Other countries have done a terrific job. I keep going back to Germany, I use Germany as a great example. You don’t see swastikas, you don’t see statues of Nazi soldiers all around, and they don’t say, ‘That’s cancel culture.’ They say that’s improving their culture. I think we need to think more on those terms.”
San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich, whose team locked arms with the Orlando Magic prior to Monday’s game, also had plenty to say.
“It just makes you sick to your stomach,” he said. “How many times does it have to happen? As sick to our stomachs as we might feel, that individual is dead! He’s dead! And his family is grieving, and his friends are grieving. And we just keep moving on as if nothing is happening.”
He also pointed the finger at Donald Trump and the Republican party for being more concerned with retaining power than protecting human lives.
“It’s childish. It’s sickening. It’s dangerous. And do these people want a country or not?” he said. “Do these people have grandchildren? Do they want their grandchildren to go to work and go to school and go through these [mass shooter] drills and worry about being murdered? What does it take?”
He continued, “They care more about them than your freaking power and your position and your donors. And with policing, it’s the same damn way. How many young Black kids have to be killed for no freaking reason?”
Pop then called out NBA owners for putting their money behind the wrong legislators and causes.
“We need to find out who funds these people,” he said. “I want to know what owners in the NBA fund these people who perpetrate these lies. Maybe that’s a good place to start so it’s all transparent.”
The days of “shut up and dribble” are gone. So I commend these athletes for using their platforms and resources to serve as catalysts for change.