In an article for The Players’ Tribune Wednesday, former Sixers player and coach Maurice Cheeks told a chilling story about a time 12 years ago where he was wrongfully apprehended by police.
Not long after Cheeks was let go as head coach of the Sixers, he went down to Miami to contemplate his next move. While Cheeks rode his bike down the street, a cop followed him before eventually pulling his car in front of Cheeks. The officer handcuffed Cheeks and pushed him to the curb, telling him he looked “like a guy in a white T-shirt who just robbed a house.”
Cheeks was not the person the police were looking for, yet he remained in their custody.
“I wanted to yell that I had done nothing wrong," Cheeks wrote. "I wanted to try and get my hands free. I wanted to set the record straight. I wanted to fight the cop who had spoken to me like I was nothing. But I knew that resisting would mean risking my life, so I did everything in my power to remain calm.”
The Hall of Famer was eventually let go by police without an explanation or apology. Cheeks chose to tell this story in light of the death of George Floyd.
“I kept those emotions buried for the last 12 years," he wrote. "But when I saw the video of George Floyd being murdered in broad daylight by a cop who was kneeling on his neck, everything came flooding back. How easily that could have been me. What if I had given into my emotions? What if, instead of remaining calm, I had insisted the officer treat me like a human being?”
Cheeks, now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder, talked about his experience with cops growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He talked about the “fatal flaws of the system” and how he believes the protests are working.
“Strange things happen when you go from being a guy who plays basketball to being a guy who plays basketball in the NBA," he wrote. "Chief among them is that you become, to some people, superhuman. As though you’re able to achieve things others can’t. But that day on my bike, I realized the extent to which all black people are in some ways expected to have superhuman control over their emotions — and if they don’t, the results can be deadly.”
The entire article is powerful and worthy of your time.
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