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In a special of about one hour and 15 minutes from TNT Inside the NBA Host Ernie Johnson, panelists Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, and some special guests (including NBA commissioner Adam Silver) on Thursday spoke about ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism at following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police last week.
Here are some of the most memorable moments from the special.
Reflections on what’s going on right now
To start the show, Johnson asked his three panelists for their thoughts on the state of the world and the protests resulting from the death of 46-year-old Floyd, who was killed after former police officer Derek Chauvin told him pressed the knee against the neck Floyd pleaded for his life.
Smith began by saying that he had been blessed in life because of the success he had found on the basketball court, but acknowledged that not all African-Americans had been so lucky, and this is why we saw the level of agitation that we have now.
“The first thing is for George Floyd and his family. We want to send our condolences to friends, family who [are] immediate with him, and also my condolences to a community. A community of people and a community around the world who are going through this horrible period of the scab of racism ripped out – the bandage being ripped out, “Smith began.
“Obviously I am a bit clueless and, at the same time, I am encouraged that everyone now sees what we have seen, as a young African American man from Queens, New York, I have seen my whole life . I had a few privileges because I was a member of the American first team and I am an American university basketball player of the year, an NBA champion, but at the heart of it, I have always been a black American, a black person. And I know what these difficulties were.
“… The reason I was probably able to be as resilient as I probably was is because I have always been successful. So success would always make me think, “Well, I don’t have to handle this. I’m not going to do it because I’m going on. I’m going to the University of North Carolina. I’m not going to worry about this guy … because I was successful. And when I got to the NBA, I was more successful. So I said to myself, “I’m not going to worry about that, it happens to me, because I’m successful.”
“But imagine if you are 50, 55 years old and you did not have the success that I had and that you had to face that and that you earn 25 000 $, 30 000 $ per year. is what you see now. And I’m kind of happy that America is looking at the systematic racism that has been around for a long time.
According to Barkley, being black is a constant source of anxiety, citing the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the racist incident that Christian Cooper experienced in Central Park in New York and, of course, the death of Floyd as examples.
“It is stressful to be a black man,” he said. “You know, I was sitting at home a month ago and a young black man is jogging and he’s shot and killed – like white people don’t have to deal with this every day. This kid went to do jogging and his life is over.
“Two weeks later in New York. A black man watches the birds, he politely asks a white woman, “Please put your dog on a leash.” She goes off on a tangent, “I’m going to call the police to say I’m [being] harassed by a black man in the park. “These are things that black people have to face.
“Now let’s go to Mr. Floyd. We are all in our house to manage our own affairs and you turn on the television and you see a cop who has a knee on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
“… These people were trying to live their lives in a positive way and two of them were killed just because they were black. One was harassed because he was black. And you get sick and tired … It’s just tiring to be black all the time, because it’s something all the time. You never relax. “
O’Neal covered his opening remarks a lot, but the most poignant points were for those who complained about some of the protests we have seen going violent and why it could happen.
“People are just tired, people are just frustrated, people are upset and they have a right to be upset,” said O’Neal. “There were a lot of protests, there was a lot of looting, there were a lot of people who complained about the looting. You have to understand how these people feel.
“And for the people who control the system, I think that one way to exhaust systematic racism is to listen. You have to listen to how we feel. You don’t know how we feel.
“You don’t know how it goes when you’re arrested, what will happen to you? I saw a video the other day, and I see a lot of videos like this – it was a man white and the cops they were touching him. They had the batons and they were touching him. So they got him out of the car, put him on the ground, touched him. He gets up, takes over, hits a cop on the head, hits another cop, then he gets in the car and leaves.
“Now, if you have to ask the question,” If he was a black man, what would happen? “There is a problem with the system. We already know, if it was black, what would happen.”
Response to Drew Brees’ Comments
New Orleans Saints star quarterback Drew Brees landed in hot water earlier this week when he made comments denouncing kneeling during the American national anthem, saying he lacked respect for the flag and the country.
The game was fast and everywhere, as it would appear that Brees did not understand the rationale for Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest to begin with. Brees apologized Thursday.
Johnson brought this up to his panel and, surprisingly, Barkley and O’Neal did not convict Brees.
“Drew’s original statement, I thought, was insensitive – it was very insensitive, especially during this period. But I thought the negative reaction of each talking head on television and some of his teammates was exaggerated,” said Barkley “I’ve never heard a bad word about Drew Brees in my life. He made a mistake, but we’ve gotten to the point where everyone on social media thinks he’s God, judge and jury. Drew Brees made a mistake. “
More interesting than Barkley’s rationale was O’Neal’s revelation that he was there when Brees apologized to his Saints teammates.
“About two weeks ago, I was contacted to speak to the Saints’ players,” said O’Neal. “So I was going to talk about team unity and something else, and then it happened. … I was on call the day Drew apologized to his teammates, and most of his teammates accepted his apology. They said, “Drew, we know your character. We know that you have done things that you could not take back. But guess what? We want you to do more positive things and talk less. “And they all said,” We accept your apologies. “
“I agree with Chuck. He made a mistake.”
But while Barkley and O’Neal were in a lenient mood about it, Smith didn’t have it at all.
“I was very offended,” said Smith.
“I considered it the definition of what we call” white privilege “because it has systematic restraint and you only look at it from your point of view. … So you don’t look at him from the other ethnic race. It got worse that it was Drew Brees, someone for whom we applaud, someone for whom we applaud and who has teammates like us, who did not touch us. Someone who is in a locker room every day. He doesn’t have the same excuse that some other people may have.
“… So you would think that he would be more educated in the sensitivities of all the others. Someone we encouraged uses his white privilege to say that he couldn’t understand what we were going through at that time. It was very offensive to me. “
Adam Silver on what’s going on and how the NBA can affect change
When asked what he thought of what was going on in the world right now, Silver made it clear that he believed the NBA could and should be seen as a positive voice in racial justice.
“… We are such a unique institution, of which you are all a part, of course, which, in my opinion, may be able to have more impact on this issue than almost any other organization in the world,” said Silver. stated that it specifically addresses Smith, Barkley and O’Neal.
“I mean, when you think, among the players, the coaches, the former players like you, who are included in our property now, within this group, you have some of the best known people of color around the world .
“… I don’t think it’s about finding something tomorrow, but fast enough. I think we have to come together and think about the ways in which this institution can have an impact on our society in general.”
Return to Game Details
Finally, although it was not rightly the main subject discussed during the show, the subject of the NBA 22 teams return to play plan which was approved by the owners on Thursday afternoon was raised with questions health and safety at the top of my mind.
“We have a long way to go here. We are really the equivalent of the first run,” said Silver. “I mean, the first step was to agree on a format among the 30 teams. We we’ve had extensive discussions with the Players’s Association, but we’ve not finished these negotiations and these are obviously our partners here so they have to accept all aspects of this format so these discussions are continuing. to pay with Disney to play with Orlando.
“But even when all of these steps are finished, I think there are constant changes in terms of what we learn about this virus.”
“We study the workload in Orange County, Florida every day.… We play in a central location, we are going to play on a campus where, essentially, the players will live and stay there throughout the competition. world is going to be tested – we work on the logistics with the players, but most likely daily. And even if the players will be tested daily and the other participants, apart from when the players are face to face on the field – a strange thing to do at the time of the virus – the other times will be to keep certain protocols of social distancing. “
In particular, when it comes to health and safety, Silver has revealed that, as COVID-19 affects older people more, some of the league leaders, such as the 65-year-old Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry, Houston Rockets , 69 Coach Mike D’Antoni and 71-year-old San Antonio Spurs bench boss Gregg Popovich may not be allowed to coach the bench.
“I think one of the things we know – we have learned a lot about the virus since we closed in March – and the data shows that, for the most part, there are exceptions, that healthy young people are the less vulnerable. But there are also people involved in this league, especially some of the coaches, who are obviously older people, and we also know that people of all ages who have underlying conditions are more vulnerable.
“So we are going to have to work through protocols and it may be, for example, that some coaches cannot be the bench coach. They may have to keep social distancing protocols and maybe they can be in front of a room, a locker room or a ballroom with a whiteboard, but when it comes to the actual game, you know, we’re not going to want them close to the players, to protect them. ”
Silver later returned to these comments – in a note obtained by ESPNAdrian Wojnarowski of the President of the NBA Coaches Association, Rick Carlisle, Silver, is said to have “jumped the gun”.
A health and safety issue for Silver seemed fairly certain of what would happen if a player contracted the virus, and how it would impact his team or the league’s restart plan.
“We have been dealing with a group of our experts and public health officials in Florida now and the point of view is that if we test every day and we are able to trace, essentially, the contacts that this player has had us, “I can basically contain this player and separate him from his team,” said Silver. “And we continue to test it every day. The belief is that we wouldn’t have to close if only one player was positive. “