Professional basketball teams are trying to lead with both their words and actions.
Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx players, coaches and executives filmed a PSA with Sacramento Kings players, coaches and executives to condemn George Floyd’s murder and to address racial inequality.
“For black people, true freedom is still a dream,” Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell said in the PSA.
The Timberwolves and Lynx have also joined “Team Up for Change,” which the Milwaukee Bucks and the Kings have been a part of for the past two years to raise awareness and funds to address racial inequality and police brutality. The teams said they plan to announce those plans soon, but they have already committed to recent community initiatives for the past two weeks since a white police officer (Derek Chauvin) killed an unarmed black man (Floyd) in Minneapolis after kneeling on his neck despite repeated protests that he struggled to breathe.
On June 3, the Timberwolves and Lynx partnered with “The Minneapolis Foundation” that will entail coaches Ryan Saunders and Cheryl Reeve working on an advisory committee that oversees a fund to address violence, inequality, criminal justice and community reforms. The following day, T-Wolves associate head coach David Vanterpool, Lynx assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson and T-Wolves/Lynx CEO Ethan Cassan worked with RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality) to lead a community-wide discussion on the aftermath surrounding Floyd’s death.
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The Timberwolves and Lynx have given their staff a paid company holiday on Nov. 3, 2020 so they can vote on Election Day. On Thursday and Friday, the Timberwolves and Lynx’s players coaches and staff members will work with Hy-Vee volunteers to pack 1,000 meal kits and 2,000 snack packs for MATTER to distribute to Urban Ventures, a community center in South Minneapolis.
“The Timberwolves and Lynx will continue to uphold the promise to George Floyd, his family and our community to work tirelessly to use our voices to influence change, encourage healing and promote thoughtful action as we move forward together,” both teams said in a statement. “The Timberwolves and Lynx will be announcing more initiatives soon that will include collaborations between players, coaches, city officials and the local authorities.”
As for the Kings, they said are donating $75,000 for various causes with the Black Child Legacy Campaign Youth Violence Prevention Program, collaborating on workshops involving a local co-ed summer basketball league (Kings and Queens Rise) and partnering with Build.Black to launch a summer co-ed youth NBA2K league. The Kings also plan to host voter registration workshops and give team employees paid time off for election days.
The Kings increasingly spoke out about police brutality and racial inequality after two Sacramento police officers shot 22-year-old black man Stephon Clark multiple times on March 18, 2018 despite being unarmed. Officers said they believed Clark had a gun when he actually had a cell phone.
The Kings and Boston Celtics filmed a PSA. The Kings launched a multi-year partnership with Build.Black, a coalition of local community leaders. And the Kings held more than 40 events for a combined 2,500 local youth with players, coaches and former stars and staff members hosting various youth healing forums, educational workshops and a co-ed youth basketball league.
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