NBA players have been the most outspoken group of professional athletes when it comes to raising awareness following the killing of George Floyd by ex-police officer Derek Chauvin last week.
Their voices and their platforms — while helpful — won’t be enough.
They need allies and the league’s head coaches are ready to do their part in bringing about systemic change. The National Basketball Coaches Association has formed a committee on racial injustice and reform.
“We have the power and platform to affect change, and we will use it,” the group said via statement.
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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said all 30 NBA coaches were on a call recently.
“One thing that I heard from a number of coaches, as white coaches we have a lot of responsibility here,” Stevens said.
Like the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, bringing about the kind of wide-ranging, systemic change that so many are now championing can’t be done by one person or one group.
“We may not be able to know the depth of the pain of colleagues that are black or players that are black, our assistants that are black, but we have a responsibility to not only be empathetic but also help drive change,” Stevens said. “You saw in the coaches association statement; you saw in the Celtics statement. We have all been in these conversations before. And you’re moved to drive change and sometimes actionable steps lead to what you think is progress but this sure doesn’t look like progress."
Stevens added, “What we need to do is play our part and make sure we’re part of long-term, sustainable change.”