8:40 PM ET.
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy called the guilty verdict in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin an important day for our country on Tuesday, but said it was hard to find a reason to celebrate and acknowledged there is still a lot of work to do.
Van Gundy spoke to reporters before Tuesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets shortly after Chauvin was convicted by a jury of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for his role in the murder of George Floyd outside a local grocery store last May.
Van Gundy said we had someone to kill right in front of us. Right in front of all of us, because we can see it on video. And no amount of condemnation will change that. And even though it’s simple, it’s hard to celebrate. It’s also hard to celebrate because we’ve had other incidents like the one after George Floyd’s death.
I suppose you’re wondering now if it makes a difference? Will it make a difference? It was a fair verdict. But will there be more serious consequences? Will it force or motivate us to find better policing practices and address the huge issue of racial justice? Will it do all that, will it move us forward? Or is this a one-time judgment based on the fact that we had clear video evidence?
I applaud the just verdict, but I have a hard time celebrating what it all started with – George Floyd is still dead, and there have been deaths since then, and I’m not confident that this is a step in the right direction and not an isolated incident.
Van Gundy, 61, said former Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce wrote a letter Tuesday to all the league’s head coaches reminding them that the National Association of Basketball Coaches formed a committee on racial injustice and reform shortly after Floyd’s death.
The committee, which includes Van Gundy and Pierce, has begun looking for solutions in NBA cities.
Van Gundy added that although he thinks the country is going backwards in terms of racial equality and justice, the one thing that gives him hope is the involvement of the country’s younger generation.
I look at NBA players and see how dedicated they are at their age. I look at my kids when they are 20 and see how engaged they are. Now it’s up to them, because our generation, not yours, because I’m much older than anyone else on this planet, but my generation screwed up. It’s up to the younger generation, Van Gundy said.
If I go downstairs, I need to see my kids. I have to look at the athletes who are in their 20’s and will do anything to get involved. This is the source of my hope. But man, it’s hard to see any progress right now.
Several other NBA coaches reacted to the decision on Tuesday.
– Nate McMillan, Hawks: I feel like the jury did their job. You have to hold everyone accountable for your actions. The jury found him guilty on all three charges. I think they did their job. That’s all that’s needed in this country: that everyone be held accountable for their actions. I think they made the right decision today.
– Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets: Bittersweet. It is clear that George Floyd lost his life unfairly, like so many others, and we must not forget that people do lose their lives. On the other hand, it is a small gesture of justice and perhaps a hope for the future that the whole social justice movement, the NBA, will have an impact on society as a whole. Whether it’s small and creates a tipping point or big, there is hope that will change the voice of many people and that we will have a better future for our children.
– James Borrego, Charlotte Horns: That was the verdict. We agree, of course, but we still have a lot of work to do. Our league has done a good job of making changes and continuing to see changes and pushing for changes, and the other thing, I think today was a day of healing, but also an incentive for us to want to be more, to want to see changes. I am proud to work for a union and an organization that want to see this and continue the dialogue. We will not stop here. We as an organization will continue to do what we can in our own community to speak out against injustice and encourage our communities to be better, and I think that’s what we all want for our children, our families.
– Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks: We are glad that justice has been done. Your heart beats for the Floyd family, because there is nothing you can do to get him back. It is clear that there is no place for racism or intolerance in society. We have to do better than that. As a country, we need to do better.
– Steve Clifford, Orlando Magic: For me, the main feeling was just relief. … I can’t lie, I was, like many other people, very concerned [if the solution had gone the other way]. … Hopefully this will give you a sense of closure.
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