• Peter Burtnett

Sports world reacts to shooting of Jacob Blake

Doc Rivers has been one of the main leaders in the sports world for racial justice, and a powerful message delivered in a postgame interview highlighted his desire for change. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

“We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that are denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear.”

Those stirring words come from Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, after his team's 154-111 win over the Dallas Mavericks, in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake and the message centered around fear at the Republican National Convention.

Blake, who was unarmed and shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been paralyzed from the waist down after he tried to break up a fight between two women. He was trying to get back into his car, which contained his three sons, who had to witness this horrific act of police brutality.

Rivers continued: “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back,. It’s just 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. We have to demand better.”

Rivers, whose father was a former cop, offered suggestions for fixing the problem, including changing police training and disbanding unions. He added, "We're trying to get them to protect us just like they protect everybody else.”

Clippers forward Paul George, who shared his mental struggles after a solid game and return to form, and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, head of the NBA coach's association, offered similar sentiments about how voting is important to solve this problem and how the importance of basketball pales in comparison to unarmed black men being shot in the streets by the cops who are supposed to protect them.

Basketball paling in comparison is something that has prompted the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics to reconsider whether they will play their conference semifinal series, which is set to begin Thursday.

Outside of the NBA, the Detroit Lions cancelled their Tuesday practice to protest the shooting.

“Been a lot of days in my life I’ve been proud to be a Detroit Lion," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "But probably never more of an offseason or of a day than today that I’ve been proud to be a part of this team."

Around the NFL, players like Houston Texans WR Kenny Stills tweeted or shared their thoughts of being, "Tired of waking up to videos of people being gun downed by the police," or calling for change.

Players across MLB offered similar searching for answers and offering support of the Black Lives Matter movement, led by Amir Garrett, Marcus Stroman and Jack Flaherty.

Even whilst writing this article at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks have remained in their locker room at the time of their tip-off against the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

UPDATE (as of 4:20, August 26): The Bucks have boycotted Wednesday's game against the Magic, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

In the midst of sports being back even through a global pandemic, an issue that has plagued the United States of America for centuries continues to rear its ugly head. But the platform that athletes have earned through their hard work and talent provides an opportunity for the message of unity and reform to spread to a larger audience.

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