The reactions to the callous shooting of Jacob Blake are still coming in, and it’s showing just how deeply it has traumatized Black men and women.
Wednesday (Aug.27) as the athletes across the sports world decided to boycott and stop playing following the Milwaukee Bucks decision to not take the court for their playoff matchup. It was clearly a decision that reverberated across the nation and the world as basketball courts, tennis courts and baseball fields were once again empty and not because of COVID-19, but because of racism as The Atlantic’s and co-star of the Vice show Stick to Sports Jemele Hill accurately stated on Twitter.
The haunting visual of Jacob Blake being viciously shot in his back seven times by a Kenosha police officer in front of his children leaving him paralyzed not only affected the athletes who provided us entertainment in these dark times, but also those who have to talk about them.
On TNT’s Emmy-award winning show Inside The NBA, the mood on the set was obviously a somber and serious one as they had to cover the Milwaukee Bucks decision to boycott the game in the wake of the shooting and protests taking place in their home state. In a very powerful moment, retired NBA star Kenny Smith didn’t waste any time letting the crew and the viewers know where he stands and took off his mic and announced he was boycotting in solidarity with the players. Before he walked off the set, he told his fellow co-workers:
“As a Black man, as a former player, I think its best for me to support the players and not be here tonight.”
While the rest of the crew respected Kenny’s decision, the show went on and continued the discussion about the night. Chris Webber, who is currently at the bubble and was set to call the game alongside Stan Van Gundy, fought back the tears as he gave his best analysis on the deeply troubling times affecting Black people.
“I wanted to have a voice in here because I feel like we only have the same couple of voices talking during these times,” Webber began.
“We know that there’s been a million marches, and nothing will change tomorrow. We know ‘Vote.’ We keep hearing ‘Vote, everybody vote.’ But I’m here to speak for those that are always marginalized. Those that live in these neighborhoods where we preach and tell them to vote and walk away.
“If not now when? If not during a pandemic and countless lives being lost, if not now, when? That’s all I just want to hear from the rest of the night when everybody’s pontificating and thinking and soap-boxing and all of that.”
Before finishing up his heartfelt statement, Webber pointed out that he knows change isn’t going to be instant and urged people not to be quick to give up on the fight.
“We know nothing is going to change. We get it. Martin Luther King got shot … We’ve seen this in all of our heroes, constantly taken down. We understand that it’s not going to end. But that does not mean young men that you don’t do anything.
“Don’t listen to these people telling you ‘Don’t do anything because it’s not going to end right away.’ You are starting something for the next generation and the next generation to take over.”
“Do you have to be smart? Yes. Do you have to make sure that you have a plan? Yes. Do you have to be articulate about that plan? Yes. All of those things. But that’s what you’re going to do. They’re professionals. They know how to be the best of themselves. And so I applaud it. I applaud it because it is the young people leading the way.”
Retired Los Angeles Lakers legend, Robert Horry touched on another painful realization in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting, a Black parent fearing for the lives of their Black children. Horry broke down in tears as he described living in fear because there’s a possibility his sons won’t make it home due to an interaction with the very people who are supposed to protect them.
“It’s hard to tell your 14-year-old son that I worry about him when he walks out that door. I have a 21-year-old son. I worry about him because Black men are an endangered species pretty much. These cops are just killing because they feel like if they don’t have their body cams on, they have a right.
“And I tell my kids all the time. I say, ‘Dude, I don’t care what’s going on because at the end of the day I want you coming home to me. If you have to lay down on the ground and they can kick you, beat you, at least you’re going to go to the hospital, and you’re going to come home to me.’”
Horry knows the pain of losing a child after his 17-year-old daughter died as the result of a genetic disorder fears the thought of losing another one.
“I already lost one child. I don’t need to lose another.”
While the possibility of the NBA resuming is up in the air, it’s clear that the athletes current and former are having a hard time trying to balance doing their jobs while trying to keep attention on the on-going fight for social justice.
Photo: Bernard Smalls / @PhotosByBeanz