LOS ANGELES (AFP) – NBA icon Michael Jordan decried “ingrained racism” in America yesterday as the sports world’s reaction to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd leapt leagues and continents.
“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan said in a statement, as protests over Floyd’s death on May 25 spawned violence and looting. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of colour in our country.
“We have had enough,” said Jordan, who was famously reluctant to comment on social issues during his playing career.
Floyd died on May 25 after a white policeman in Minneapolis had held his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes.
“We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability,” Jordan said.
Jordan joined a chorus of voices from the NBA, NFL and other United States (US) sports demanding change for black Americans, but the demands weren’t limited to the US.
French footballer Marcus Thuram and England international Jadon Sancho called for justice for Floyd after scoring in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Thuram took a knee after scoring for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a match against Union Berlin, while Sancho marked one of his three goals for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn by lifting his jersey to reveal a T-shirt bearing the words ‘Justice for George Floyd’.
Thuram’s gesture echoed the protest of US racism spearheaded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the national anthem at games in 2016 sparked outrage.
The gesture has now been heartbreakingly compared to the death of Floyd, who pleaded that he couldn’t breathe as Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin kept his knee on his neck.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent an internal memo to NBA employees on Sunday that said the league shares “the outrage” that has followed the death of Floyd – which comes in the wake of the police killing in Kentucky of emergency health worker Breonna Taylor in her home, and the fatal shooting of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
Commissioner Adam Silver sent an internal memo to NBA office employees on Sunday, offering thoughts of frustration and sadness after watching the protests around the country over the weekend.
“We are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” Silver said in the memo, which was obtained and published by Yahoo.
“Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored.”