SACRAMENTO -- The events of Wednesday have the world on notice. As images streamed across the television of anarchy and chaos breaking out at the United States Capitol building, a basketball game being played in Sacramento, Calif. seemed almost trivial.
The NBA not only allows their players, coaches and teams to speak out on politics and social injustice, they almost promote it.
Kings coach Luke Walton spoke on the events during pregame, although his team had yet to discuss the situation as a group. After the Kings' 128-124 win, veteran Harrison Barnes also chose to speak out, giving an impassioned view from his point of view.
After getting treatment, rookie Tyrese Haliburton, who had once again put on a show for Sacramento, welcomed the conversation and spoke about as honestly as any NBA player has over the last 24 hours.
“What happened today, in particular, is nothing but a joke,” Haliburton said. “With everything that’s going on, the losses of many African American lives and the plight of people of color -- for these human beings to come out and act like they’ve been discriminated against because they lost a fair election or because they have to wear masks, is a complete joke.”
Haliburton took President Donald Trump to task, but he also responded to a Tweet from President-elect Joe Biden that didn’t quite sit well with him either.
“America is so much better than what we’re seeing today,” Biden wrote.
"I'm 20-years-old, but I feel like this is as American as it gets,” Haliburton said of Biden’s words. “I think today, of my lifetime, was probably the biggest flex of white power and white privilege that there is. And I say that in the most respectful way possible.”
“I was taught to treat human beings as human beings first, before anything,” Haliburton said.
It was a difficult day for millions of Americans as they tried to make sense of what they were seeing play out. Haliburton said he stared at his phone watching event unfold, searching for words or feelings that would express his point of view.
In addition to the frustrations at the Capitol, Haliburton was still trying to process the decision in his home state of Wisconsin to not press charges against the police officer that shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed.
“It’s a shame. It’s just another example of this country failing African Americans and people of color,” Haliburton said. “It’s just a disappointment.”
Haliburton has a maturity to him that you rarely see in a 20-year-old. He also has a voice and an eloquent way of speaking his mind and he’s not afraid to use it.
“I’m not a politician, I don’t have all the answers to a lot of things, but I believe in human rights and human decency and that’s obviously not being shown right now,” Haliburton said.
This won’t be the last time we hear from Haliburton on subjects like this. He is passionate and he wants to make a difference, even if it rubs some people the wrong way.