For NBA players, Breonna Taylor’s grand jury decision “is not enough”


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla .– LeBron James sent the word to the Los Angeles Lakers in a group text Wednesday afternoon, and basketball suddenly seemed out of place.

A Kentucky grand jury had finally spoken. And James was letting his team know that NBA players, who have spent months seeking justice for Breonna Taylor, haven’t gotten what they want.

“Something has been done,” said Lakers guard Danny Green, “but it wasn’t enough. ”

Wednesday’s decision by the grand jury, which brought no charges against Louisville Police for Taylor’s murder and only three counts of gratuitous endangerment against fired officer Brett Hankison for shooting at neighbors’ homes de Taylor, was not unexpected by many NBA players and coaches. While there were no drugs in Taylor’s apartment, her boyfriend shot and injured a police officer. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the shots of the officers who killed Taylor were fired in self-defense. They had the feeling that it would not turn out as they hoped.

“I know we’ve used our platform here to try to bring education and a voice to a lot of the players on our team, especially also for justice for Breonna Taylor,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. . “We did not get this justice. “

The teams have come to Walt Disney World to end the season and crown a champion, hoping the NBA’s reboot bubble platform could help amplify calls for change. Players and coaches have used the NBA spotlight to make statements at a time when the demand for racial equality and an end to police brutality resonates as loudly as it has for generations.

And Taylor’s story – the story of a 26-year-old black woman who was killed on March 13 by police in Louisville when they broke into her apartment with a restraining warrant during an investigation into the narcotics centered on a suspect who didn’t live there – captivated NBA players. There were no drugs in Taylor’s apartment. Her boyfriend shot and injured a police officer in the raid and Kentucky State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the shots from the officers who killed Taylor were fired in self-defense.

Many NBA players have met, virtually, with members of his family to offer support. They say his name at press conferences, wear it on shirts, scribble it on their sneakers.

“We have moms. We have sisters, nieces, aunts. And just as men of color have been through traumatic situations, so have women, ”said Boston forward Jaylen Brown. “This is an example of some of the things that happen to women in our country. So we wanted to be by their side, but also to make sure it wasn’t just us. I think the future is feminine, so it’s important to show our sisters that we care. This is why it was important. ”

Even for teams that aren’t in the bubble, it mattered. Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce leads an NBA coaching committee tasked with finding new ways to use their own platform to create change, and he’s encouraged his own players – black and white – to speak up and take action, whether in Atlanta or in their own community. .

Pierce took the hard Wednesday news.

“Yeah there was a grand jury and yes they went through the information and yes they have facts to back it up regardless of the claims,” Pierce said. “But that does not do justice to those who are outside, to those who feel that the police and law enforcement are there to protect them.… What is happening now is not enough. . ”

National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts went further. “Unfortunately there was no justice today for Breonna Taylor,” said Roberts. “Her murder was the result of a series of senseless and reckless decisions made with a lack of respect for humanity, ultimately culminating in the death of an innocent and beautiful woman with her whole life ahead of her. ”

The league was shut down for three days last month when a boycott launched by the Milwaukee Bucks – in response to police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin – nearly caused players to put end the season because they felt their requests for change were not taken seriously enough.

And Wednesday’s news was another disappointment for them.

“We feel that we have taken a step back, that we have not made the progress that we were looking for,” said Green. “Our voices are not heard loud enough. But we are not going to stop. We will continue. We will continue to fight, we will continue to push, we will continue. use our voices. “


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