Former NBA player Chris Webber gave an impassioned speech about players who refused to make their playoff games on Wednesday to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Webber, an NBA commentator on Turner Sports, said he was proud of the players who decided to step away from basketball overnight. He also invoked Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers in his speech.
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“We know that nothing will change. We understood. Martin Luther King got shot and risked his life – Medgar Evers. We’ve seen this in all of our constantly downcast heroes. We understand it’s not going to end, ”said the former great Sacramento Kings.
“But that doesn’t mean to young men that you’re not doing anything. Don’t listen to those people who tell you not to do anything because it’s not going to end right away. You are starting something for the next generation and the next generation to take over. ”
Webber said the reason he watched the videos of black people dying was because of Emmett Till, the boy who was lynched in 1955 for allegedly hissing a white woman, which turned out to be more late wrong.
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“The only reason I watch black male death videos… is because Emmett Till’s mom decided to put him on the cover and decided to put his picture there when he was. so brutally killed years ago. I always think of his strength. Because if she didn’t show this picture to show what the lynching, what the KKK was doing, what the others were doing – it opened America’s eyes in so many ways. It drew attention. This horrible and ugly image of a young boy not even old enough to vote and killed for a lie, ”he said.
Webber’s colleague Kenny Smith also made a statement leaving the TNT set in solidarity with the players.
“As a black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and not be here tonight,” Smith said before stepping out during the live broadcast.
Shaquille O’Neal also expressed his support for the players’ decision.
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“Everyone was united in their decision. I respect that because if everyone weren’t unified we would be talking about something that isn’t important rather than the issues at stake, ”O’Neal said. “I respect guys. I respect their wishes. I respect everyone’s thinking and processes as to how they handle certain things. African Americans have had enough, the people who care have had enough and something needs to change.
Thomas Barrabi of Fox News contributed to this report.