Grizzlies and other NBA teams speak out on Tire Nichols’ death

Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins watched a TV interview on Friday with Tire Nichols’ mother talking about losing her son and losing control of her emotions.

“I cried,” Jenkins said.

Outrage, frustration, sadness and anger were evident around the NBA on Friday, the day video was released showing how Nichols, a 29-year-old father, was killed by five Memphis police officers. Several teams have released statements of support for the family, as have the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

And the emotions around the league were palpable, as they have been so many times after so many other incidents of police violence against black men and women in recent years.

“It’s just crazy,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who opened his pregame press conference Friday by talking about Nichols before any questions were even asked.

The officers, who are also black, all face charges of second-degree murder, as well as charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. And the Grizzlies played a game in Minneapolis – the city where George Floyd, a black man, was killed after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck in an act that sparked protests around the world against police brutality and racism – Friday night with heavy hearts.

“The senseless death of Tire Nichols really touched us,” Jenkins told Bally Sports, the Grizzlies’ broadcast partner, in a Minnesota pregame interview. “It was hard to be on the road, not to be at home. I wish I could stretch my arms through this camera right now to the family. They go through a lot.

There was a moment of silence before the game in Minnesota. Several teams, including Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota and Milwaukee, released statements.

“We are outraged by the fatal beatings Tire Nichols received from five Memphis police officers,” the Bucks said in their statement. “While the police charged for their heinous acts is an important step for justice, this incident further underscores the need for progress in improving police-community relations.”

The NBA released its statement about two hours after the video of Nichols’ death was released, as protests unfolded in several cities in response to the footage.

“The images of Tire Nichols’ unnecessarily shortened life are horrifying,” the league said. “While there have been steps towards accountability in this case, the NBA family remains committed to joining with advocates, policymakers and law enforcement to find solutions to the issues we continue to face. .”

Nichols was returning home from taking photos of the sky on January 7, when police arrested him. He was only a few minutes from the house he shared with his mother and stepfather.

The video of the murder was released on Friday evening. It was not immediately clear if the Grizzlies viewed the video before their game.

“Our thoughts are with the entire Memphis community as they deal with and manage this horrific tragedy, and we support the lawful arrest of all officers involved,” the NBPA said. “Such aggressive policing and excessive force illustrates the continued need for accountability in the justice system.

The union said it would “continue to follow the investigation and legal proceedings in pursuit of justice for Tyr and his family”.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace.

Jenkins also said he hopes the citizens of Memphis will rally together.

“My words won’t mean much,” Jenkins said. “I want to continue to encourage people to hug each other, to surround themselves with the Nichols family, the Wells family to remember a good life in Tire Nichols – which I did not know, but which I am learning. “


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