Doc Rivers: ‘It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back’
Removing a mask, with tears in his eyes, Clippers coach Doc Rivers decried the relationship between police and Black people in the United States following his team’s victory Tuesday in Game 5 of a playoff series against Dallas.
Rivers was the latest inside the NBA’s Disney World campus near Orlando, Fla., to respond to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis., joining addresses by the Lakers’ LeBron James and Boston’s Jaylen Brown, among others. Members of the Toronto Raptors said Tuesday they have discussed not playing in the first game of their second-round postseason series against Boston.
The topic of police brutality that has been intertwined with the league’s restart since its inception and Blake’s shooting — captured by cellphone footage — returned it to the fore.
“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back,” Rivers said. “It’s really so sad.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called the video “a gut punch” before tipoff Tuesday.
Rivers demurred when asked about his reaction before the Clippers’ eventual 154-111 victory, saying he would address his feelings after the game. And he did, spending more than two minutes in a searing answer that discussed his background, as the son of a Chicago police officer, and his fear when interacting with police.
“It’s just so sad. What stands out to me is just watching the Republican convention, viewing this fear. All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I’m so often reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We got to do better. But we got to demand better.
“It’s funny, we protest. They send riot guards. They send people in riot outfits. They go up to Michigan with guns. They’re spitting on cops. Nothing happens. The training has to change in the police force. The unions have to be taken down in the police force. My dad was a cop. I believe in good cops. We’re not trying to defund the police and take all their money away. We’re trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else. I didn’t want to talk about it before the game because it’s so hard, like, to just keep watching it.
“That video, if you watch that video, you don’t need to be Black to be outraged. You need to be American and outraged. How dare the Republicans talk about fear. We’re the ones that need to be scared. We’re the ones having to talk to every black child. What white father has to give his son a talk about being careful if you get pulled over? It’s just ridiculous. It just keeps going. There’s no charges. Breonna Taylor, no charges, nothing. All we’re asking is you live up to the Constitution. That’s all we’re asking for everybody, for everyone. Thank you.”
Clippers guard Lou Williams:
“Honestly, this is gonna be the only statement I make tonight. As far as the basketball game, I think that was self explanatory. I want to send prayers and a shout out to the Blake family. It’s unfortunate we’re in this bubble and we’re still dealing with these issues. We came here to bring awareness and use our voices for other guys and sadly, we’re here and it’s still happening. We’re still seeing unarmed Black men get shot in the streets. It’s just ridiculous at this point. And I think it’s difficult being here when things like that are happening.
“You kind of feel helpless in a way. You can use your voice in a way but I think our presence is much more felt. To all our brothers out there in the streets that’s gonna protest these things, that’s gonna fight for legislation for prison reform and those things, I think that’s very important. It’s just sad. Outside of our jerseys, we’re black men and so it’s scary for an encounter with police officers right now. It’s unfortunate. That’s all I gotta say tonight.”
Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard:
“I don’t have social media and I don’t check the internet a lot. But it’s super sad to know that we got all this campaigning and protests going on and police are still shooting unarmed Black men. It’s just been like that since I was a child. You know, we can’t really do too much, the guys are here right now. … Officials that hire these policemen, put the right people in the office that they can make this change. All we can do is talk about it. Since we are in this NBA campus right now, just educate people on what’s going on so people on the outside can protest and speak on it and hopefully whoever is running these cities, these states and people that talk on the country, Supreme Court, can make some changes.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers had to lead the Clippers out of the emotional funk that had trapped them two days earlier with Game 4 and Jacob Blake, columnist Helene Elliott writes.
Clippers forward Paul George:
“I just saw the video now. It’s sad. You know, it’s sad. Another one. This is America. Unless people decide to do the right thing, this is America. We got to stand by all. We need our allies to stand with us. This is what’s going on. This is what’s happening. It’s still happening. Even after what happened with George Floyd. It’s within them. There’s some coward cops out there. It’s the system. We got to change it. I ask all my brothers and sisters out there to continue this fight while we’re in here, we’ll continue the fight while we’re in here. Everybody has to join together.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle:
“Coming into this, so much of the conversation about whether the Orlando NBA campus was even going to happen hinged on social justice and the things that were going on in the world and so in my conversations with [National Basketball] Players Association, this really happened because it was an opportunity to play the game we love, more importantly it was a platform to really talk about the things that had been going on in the world, from George Floyd on back. And then, the recent thing with Jacob Blake, it’s just another, it’s a horrible gut punch, so there’s a lot of conversation about a lot of things right now — understandably so — but I said this today in a Zoom call today with TNT, the importance of basketball is so far down the list of things when you consider the events of the last several months and really the events throughout history, and that’s one reason we read from the Equal Justice Initiative calendar every day, is to face those injustices, going back 400-plus years, try to reckon with them, understand, talk about it, try to heal — and then you turn around and then there’s another one. So it’s very, very difficult.”
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