The sports world reacts to the weekend’s protests and the death of George Floyd

As Americans took to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the sports world offered its collective voice.

Protests took place in some of the major cities in the United States over the weekend, including Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta, and many professional athletes past and present not only spoke up about the protests, but joined in, giving their support to those seeking to shed light on the unjust nature of Floyd’s death.

One of those athletes was Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown.

Brown, a native of Marietta, Georgia, drove 15 hours to his hometown over the weekend to lead a peaceful march.

Joining Brown at the protest was Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.

Former NBA champion Stephen Jackson, a longtime friend of Floyd’s, held a press conference regarding Floyd’s death on Friday in Minneapolis.

Jackson was joined by Minnesota Timberwolves players Josh Okogie and All-Star forward Karl-Anthony Towns, whose mother recently passed away from COVID-19.

New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is a native of Fayettevile, North Carolina, and he joined hip hop artist J. Cole – also a Fayetteville native – to protest in their hometown on Saturday.

On Sunday, after Saturday night protests in San Antonio, Spurs guard Lonnie Walker helped lead a clean up in the area, removing graffiti from local buildings.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, along with Mavericks players Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson, Jalen Brunson and Maxi Kleber, joined a prayer vigil held for Floyd outside the Dallas Police headquarters on Sunday.

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, formerly a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, took to the streets of Los Angeles to protest Floyd’s death, and called the demonstrations “peaceful.”

Atlanta Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young led a peaceful protest in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma as well as delivering a speech to the crowd that gathered.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris joined a protest in the city of Philadelphia, and brought Sixers teammate Mike Scott along with him via Facetime.

Joining Harris in Philadelphia was former Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, now a member of the New Orleans Saints.

Jenkins famously protested racial inequality and police brutality during the national anthem during the 2016 and 2017 NFL seasons.

And on Sunday, several NFL players helped clean up the destruction caused by protests in the Tampa area.

A wide array of professional athletes, coaches and owners also made their voices heard via social media over the weekend, including NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who wrote this piece for the Los Angeles Times.

“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in.”

Charlotte Hornets owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan

Golf legend Tiger Woods

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers

Alabama football coach Nick Saban

Duke basketball coach Mike Kryzewski

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores

Reigning NFL MVP and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow

NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson

Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant via Thirty Five Ventures

Tennis legend Serena Williams

Seattle Seahawks superstar Russell Wilson

Reigning Super Bowl MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York

Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum

Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Chris Paul

Portland Trail Blazers star Carmelo Anthony

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Not Everything That Is Faced Can Be Changed, But Nothing can be changed UNTIL ITS FACED! WTF! What Else Do we Have To Endure. Public Executions, Modern Day Lynchings Not Enough? We are Getting Sick And Tired Of This Shit. Is Being Black That intimidating? Is It Our Strength Their Afraid of? Our Features? Or Is It Our Uniqueness? Something Have To Give. How Do We Continue to Explain This to Our Sons? One Thing I Do Know is An Army Of People Is Invincible. When All Else Fails To Organize Our People, Conditions Will. I Don’t See An American Dream, I See An American Nightmare. The Greatest Purveyor Of Violence In The World: My Own Government. I Can Not Be Silent. WE WILL BE HEARD! JUSTICE FOR GEORGE 💪🏾💪🏾 *keep in mind that a new world order is in the making, and its up to US to prepare ourselves that we may take our rightful place in it. #007 #STAYME7O

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Olympics gymnastics legend Simone Biles

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons

Women’s basketball legend Lisa Leslie

Retired NBA superstar Dwyane Wade

Los Angeles Sparks superstar Candace Parker

NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson

NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman

Retired NFL coach Tony Dungy

Cleveland Browns superstar Odell Beckham Jr.

Retired NBA superstar Steve Nash

Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry

Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence

Miami Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter




Winnipeg Jets right winger and Minnesota native Blake Wheeler

On Monday morning, many sports analysts reacted to the weekend of protests, beginning with Shannon Sharpe, who discussed what he took from the weekend protests and gave a history lesson in the process.

“What I saw was a lot of pain, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger … George [Floyd] was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s what this was … Dr. King said it so eloquently many, many years ago. He said, ‘Riots are the language of the unheard.’ What is it that America has failed to hear? What is it?”

On ESPN’s Get Up, former NFL defensive end Marcus Spears said that he was essentially raised by his mother to protect his own life due to the racism still prevalent in America.

“This isn’t about good people. This is about the people that are complicit in dismissing the fact that this has been the black experience in the United States of America for a tremendous amount of time. My mom used to be afraid, because of my size and my blackness, that I would be mistreated in this country. I had to be raised to understand, ‘You better not raise your voice in certain situations. You better just comply and don’t move and be careful every step you make.’ In this country. In the country that I love.”

Michael Wilbon also discussed his upbringing and how he can understand how some of the protests took a violent turn.

“While no one using these platforms is going to condone violence, do I understand? Listening to Martin Luther King III yesterday quote his father … hell yeah I understand it … I’m not a turn the cheek guy … I grew up with a father who fled the South because he wasn’t gonna turn the other cheek … The legitimate protesters are saying, ‘Listen to me!'”

Skip Bayless spoke directly to desk mate Shannon Sharpe, coming from the perspective of a white man witnessing the protests, which also including some rioting and looting of stores.

“Let’s talk 1,000 percent real about looting and burning – I was shaken by it, but I want you to know, I’m speaking obviously as a white man here, my emotions are very mixed about this at this point in time. My deepest instinct here is that looting and burning is not the right way to solve all this but … it has come to this. The last gasp. The only way to get White America’s attention is this way. Were some people just looting to rob? Yes. But was the emotion that was spent over the weekend, was it years of pent up frustration and emotion and anger and outrage and fear? Yes it was. And I can’t condemn it.”