The Boston Celtics welcomed their archrival Los Angeles Lakers to TD Garden on Saturday. But heading into the marquee matchup, basketball was an afterthought for C's interim coach Joe Mazzulla.
Mazzulla took time before the game to speak on Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old who was senselessly beaten by five Memphis police officers during a Jan. 7 traffic stop and died three days later. Video footage of the tragic event was released on Friday, sparking emotional reactions across the nation.
Forsberg: Three big-picture implications of Celtics' three-game skid
"On behalf of the Celtics, and my family in particular, I want to pray for Tyre Nichols' soul," Mazzulla said. "I pray for Mrs. Wells, her heart, her soul. I pray for their family in real prayer, just praying for their grief and for their understanding of the situation, and to open up my heart.
"I do think there is multiple things here. There's a systemic issue, there's a cultural issue, there's a leadership issue. Bigger than that, there is an issue of this is a broken world. We live in a broken world where we don't hold each other accountable enough to the simple things in life of love, respect, of treating your neighbor the right way, and loving your neighbor. And instead we praise pride. We praise arrogance, we praise entitlement and we all feel like we can do whatever we want at times, and that's not how this world works.
"So our Celtics organization grieves for that and we pray for that. And it's really important that we're a representation of love, a representation of hope, and taking care of the guy next to us. That's what it's all about. And so I just wanted to share that."
The five Memphis police officers responsible for Nichols' death have been fired, arrested, and charged for the brutal beating. They face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.