Before tonight’s game, the Celtics and Heat walked off the court and held a players-only meeting to discuss today’s protests in Washington D.C. and Kenosha County’s decision to not press charges against the officers who shot Jacob Blake seven times on August 23rd, 2020. At the time, the shooting prompted a league-wide protest in Orlando lead by the Milwaukee Bucks to boycott their game.
In their continued effort to point out social injustice, members from both teams kneeled during the national anthem:
Heat and Celtics players kneel for anthem. pic.twitter.com/2QrAtszPaT— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) January 7, 2021
Here’s the joint statement in its entirety:
The following is a statement from the players of the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat:
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on. The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do.
“We have decided to play tonight’s game to try to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America.”
During his pre-game availability, Brad Stevens addressed today’s events and said, “I watch it all. I’m sure our players watched it all. I’m sure everybody’s watched it all. I guess my reaction is sad. I guess the way I look at it is I think we all hope that the people we elect to lead us are supposed to be modeling leadership will do so in a way that is motivated by serving others by showing compassion and by acting gracefully.
And instead, we elected a president who luckily is on his way out and others that have not shown that kind of grace. It’s been consistent and they’ve operated at a win-at-all-costs attitude.
Our sports world is a lot less important obviously, but I always thought that if you operate in a win-at-all-costs attitude, it’s going to be an unfulfilling ending. In this situation, a disgraceful ending.
So, I’m looking forward to two weeks from now as I know a lot of people are, too.”