As protests against outgoing President Donald Trump swelled outside Barclays Center on Thursday, the Nets and 76ers tipped off inside. And both teams reflected not only on Wednesday’s attack at the U.S. Capitol, but also on the divide that prodded the insurrection.
“There wasn’t a discussion,” Nets coach Steve Nash said after the Nets’ 122-109 win over the 76ers. “I want to be clear that that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a very important issue for our team, individually, collectively. Just tonight there was a lot going on, missing our two starters (Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving), just trying to get prepared, get our lineups, rotations, get everyone’s mind in the right space. We’re just occupied with trying to have a great performance, but it doesn’t mean that we diminish at all the things that are much bigger than basketball.”
Before the game, Nash said there are bigger issues in the world than just what goes on in basketball.
“I think it definitely puts things in perspective as far as your workplace goes,” said Nash, whose Twitter avatar is a photo of George Floyd, the black man killed in broad daylight by police in Minneapolis last May.
“We put our life into the game, we have passion for it, and we work every day to try to give everything we have to this. These situations are a reminder that it’s just a game and there’s so many inequities in our society and the world that are so much bigger than the game we play.”
Trump has come under fire for stoking the insurrection at the Capitol, and many have taken note of the different treatment the armed rioters got from that afforded participants in the Black Lives Matter marches, in which many Nets participated.
“I’m sure it is [on their minds],” said Nash. “I’m sure it’s on everyone’s mind, the obvious and flagrant disparity in the way these situations are treated and I think we’re all in lockstep as to how unequal these situations and scenarios in society is.
“That’s why players and the league have continued to fight for change and social justice, and here we are again. So this is going to be a long fight, a long battle, to reach hopefully equality one day, but better levels of equality in the meantime, and it continues.”
For his part, 76ers coach Doc Rivers — whose 2007-08 Celtics championship team was the last to visit then-president George Bush at the White House — said he’d like to see NBA champs get back to that tradition.
“Yeah, for sure. I don’t think it’s the NBA that will restore that. I think its more just who’s there?” Rivers said. “Listen, there should always be respect, I’ll say that no matter who’s there. I’d say we can all say these last four years have been a different circumstance. Other than that, I think that tradition will return.”