Friday was a day of sadness and outrage for the NBA. Video footage was released of the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29–year–old father, who was killed by five Memphis police officers. These officers, who are all Black, have been charged with second–degree murder as well as aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.
The Grizzlies were in Minneapolis that night for a game, the same city where George Floyd, a Black man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. This incident sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and racism.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra opened his pregame news conference by speaking about Nichols, before any questions were even asked. Numerous teams, including Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Memphis, released statements of support for the family.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) also released a statement. “Such aggressive policing and excessive force illustrate the continued need for accountability in the justice system,” they said. The NBPA also pledged to monitor the investigation and legal proceedings in search of justice for Tyre and his family.
— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2023
Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins watched a televised interview of Tyre Nichols’ mother and broke down in tears. He spoke about how the team is playing with heavy hearts for their city going through a lot.
“My words will only mean so much,” Jenkins said. “I want to continue to encourage people to put their arms around each other, put their arms around the Nichols family, the Wells family to remember a beautiful life in Tyre Nichols.”
A statement from the NBPA. #JusticeForTyre
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) January 28, 2023
RowVaughn Wells, Tyre’s mother, pleaded for peace in reaction to the “horrific” video and urged supporters to remember the life of her beloved son. The NBA also released a statement condemning the incident and reiterating the need for justice and progress in improving police–community relations.
The death of Tyre Nichols has shaken the NBA and the nation. There is a need for better police–community relations and for accountability for officers involved in such situations.
The NBA and the NBPA have shown their support for the family and it is now up to the people to work together in the search for justice and an end to police brutality.