Players for both the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics kneeled during the national anthem on January 6 to protest the recent Capitol Hill riots. In an effort to speak out against the violence and chaos that consumed the news on Wednesday, the two teams also issued a joint statement.
"2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed," the statement read.
"We play tonight's game with a heavy heart after yesterday's decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation's capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on. The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today's protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do."
After issuing the statement, the two teams took the court. Behind Jayson Tatum's 27 points and Jaylen Brown's 12 rebounds, the Celtics emerged with 107-105 victory. Once the final buzzer sounded, things quickly shifted back towards the events taking place in Washington, D.C. During the post-game press conference, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens spoke about the conversations that took place prior to the game.
"We scrapped warm-ups and just sat in the locker room and talked," Stevens said.
"To be honest, at 30 minutes I didn't think we were playing. Then coaches left the room, players finished talking, and chose to play. I called my wife and told her, 'I don't think we're playing.' Then 10 minutes later, we had decided to."
The Celtics and Heat were not the only two teams who spoke about the incidents that took place on Wednesday. Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers and several others were asked about the riots taking place in the nation's capital.
"It’s baffling with the reaction that the law enforcement had and whoever else was involved from an authoritarian standpoint to see the National Guard standing on those same steps when there was a peaceful protest and now to see a terrorist attack and there was no National Guard," three-time NBA Champion Draymond Green said.
"It just goes to show you where this country is and where this country has always been and probably where it’s going to stay, to be quite honest. Nothing’s changed. I think through social media and all of these different things we have at our fingertips today, we’re more aware of things. But nothing has changed. This is the same America that it’s been. It’s no different."
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