Former Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood was one of the first to join the live reactions on NBATV, where the Milwaukee Bucks-Orlando Magic Game 5 was supposed to be aired. His message was as powerful as ever.
"We already had the George Floyd situation, we already had the Ahmaud Arbery situation. And then to turn around and then this happens? Come on, man. Enough is enough," Haywood said. "It’s just one of those things that when you see it you can’t unsee it."
The seven-footer played nine seasons in Washington from 2001-2009 in his 14-year NBA career.
Haywood compared the explicit graphicness of Floyd's death caught on video to the viral video showing Blake getting shot three times with his three children in the car.
"You can’t unsee that."
Taught from a young age that "the police are not to be played with," Haywood echoed Clippers head coach Doc Rivers' sentiments from yesterday that Black households are forced to have conversations about behavior around police officers at a young age, while white communities do not.
"There’s no back and forth because you can die," Haywood said, who hails from North Carolina and graduated a Tar Heel. "I’ve never experienced being treated unfairly by the cops. But I did have that talk at a very early age that, listen, the police are not to be played with because you will not be treated fairly if you get out of line because you are Black."
Haywood also considered the fact that the current environment these players are in could have had an effect.
"I think the fact that these guys are in the bubble and then they saw his heinous act I think it kind of just piled on," Haywood said. "And, yeah, some guys mentally are probably in just a bad place. They’re already uncomfortable and then now they’re seeing what’s going on outside the bubble how it affects Black people as a whole."
When asked about LeBron James' tweet, Haywood said he doesn't look at James as one of the best players to ever play in the NBA, but instead as a familiar frustrated person of color in the United States.
"They’re frustrated with systematic oppression and all of these type of underlying racial things that go on within this country. People are tired of it. We look at him like LeBron James. I look at him as a Black man that is sick and tired of being sick and tired."
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported there's a feeling the Bucks still want to play in Orlando, but wanted to make sure they could help enact change in their home state's legislature - as the players were reportedly on a phone call with Wisconsin's attorney general and lieutenant governor.
If the players and teams end up leaving, Haywood thinks the message that would send could be monumental.
"If the players leave campus, the next step is they’re pretty much saying, 'Hey we want people with influence to start using that influence to help the Black community."