Cal Basketball: Jaylen Brown's Voice Grows Within Players' Response to Racism
Jaylen Brown continues to be heard.
His audience on Wednesday night was his NBA counterparts in a players-only meeting held to sort out their response to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Brown reportedly spoke out in defense of the Milwaukee Bucks, who earlier in the day voted to boycott Wednesday night’s playoff game against the Orlando Magic. And he challenged players who wanted to call off the season, asking them if they would merely go home to be with family or continue protesting.
Players ultimately decided on Thursday to continue the playoffs, although all three games scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday have been postponed. Brown and the Boston Celtics were scheduled to begin their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night.
According to ESPN’s Marc Spears, Brown, the 23-year-old former Cal player, took issue with players who were leaning toward canceling the rest of the season in protest of Sunday night's latest police shooting of a Black man.
“OK, if you guys leave here, are you just gonna leave and go chill and hang out with your families and lose that loneliness?” Spears said Brown told them. “Or are you going to be in the trenches? Are you going to be in the streets?”
Added Spears, “And so, to me, if you're leaving just to leave and be mad, that's a waste of time. If you're going to do what Jaylen Brown said, be in the streets, be active!”
The Boston Globe reported the same scenario:
The Globe was told Brown played an active role in the all-NBA players meeting on Wednesday. He reportedly challenged players in the meeting, saying that they’d be wasting their time if the players opt to end the season and leave the bubble but don’t take to the streets and demand justice.
Wednesday night’s meeting ended with LeBron James and the Lakers, along with the Los Angeles Clippers, exiting the gathering before its conclusion.
Earlier in the meeting, the Bucks drew criticism for unilaterally deciding to call off their game Wednesday, without including the Magic or other teams in the process.
According to sources, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo stuck up for his team. And Bucks guard Kyle Korver tried to play the role of peacemaker, offering an apology.
But Brown reportedly jumped in and said the Bucks had no need to apologize.
Brown has been social active since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police office. Shortly after that Brown drove from Boston to his hometown of Atlanta to lead a peaceful protest march.
On Tuesday, two days after Blake was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosho police officer, Brown became emotional at a media session in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida.
"Are we not human beings? Is Jacob Blake not a human being?" Brown said. "I don't care if he did something 10 years ago, 10 days ago, or 10 minutes ago. If he served his sentence and he was released back into society... he still deserves to be treated like a human and not deserve to be, you know, shot in the back seven times with intent to kill. His kids will never unsee that, his family will never unsee that, and, frankly, I will never unsee it.
"People post my jersey all the time, No. 7. And every time I look at my jersey now, what I see is... a black man being shot seven times. But all America sees is his background, or his background report. It's easier to see that than to see the truth."
* SI's Chris Mannix discusses the challenge facing NBA players:
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