NBA

Heat coach Spoelstra: We can't stand for systemic racism and social injustice anymore

By Sports Desk June 06, 2020

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said "we can't stand for the systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality against the black community anymore" following George Floyd's death.

There have been nationwide protests in the United States after Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

A police officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest after he was crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Spoelstra spoke out on Saturday, telling members of the South Florida media: "I mean we just simply can't stand for the systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality against the black community anymore. And it's really about standing up for what's right versus what's wrong."

"When [wife] Nikki and I first saw the visuals, we were horrified and disgusted. Then we got really deflated and deeply saddened that this was still happening in our country in the year 2020. In the last 10 days or so, I've really spent the time listening, educating myself, trying to gain more perspective and really reflecting on everything that's been happening.

"It's really about standing up for what's right versus what's wrong. And the other thing is that it really is a call to action. We have an opportunity to be part of a movement to finally impact change. My family and I are all in on this fight. The Miami Heat are all in on this fight. This is not a time to be silent or stand on the sidelines."

Spoelstra, whose Heat team are preparing for the NBA to restart in July following the coronavirus pandemic, added: "I think it's gonna take a sincere empathy and compassion for people of all races, to really reflect and process on the true history of the black community in this country.

"The history has been filled with incredible oppression and we really have to acknowledge that, to start to change the lens of how we see true equality. My wife and I have been really taking this opportunity to really have these conversations, talk to our friends, and really reflect deeply on all of this."

"I think more people are understanding that silence is not acceptable," Spoelstra said. "And the platform our players have is truly an opportunity to move people into action. Everything that's happened is just not right and it's going to take people getting uncomfortable."

"Every time something has happened, your heart breaks," Spoelstra continued, addressing the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012.  "Our community and our players have been so incredible in using their voices and platforms previously. With Trayvon Martin, we all thought when our players took that iconic photo and the players had the idea of doing that on their own to really bring it to light to everybody that this is wrong. We all thought that was going to move the needle, and it didn't, and it broke your heart.

"Then when it happens over and over and over, what this is going to require is not even trying to evaluate. It's just put your head down and get into this fight and make it happen this time. There is momentum. I'm inspired by -- what are we going on? -- 12 straight days of protest and the protests are becoming with the younger generation. They are uniting and inspiring and they're becoming less violent. The voices and the conversations and the subject, it can't go away. We have to keep on pushing it forward."

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