Grizzlies, other NBA teams speak out on Tyre Nichols’ death

The Grizzlies and Timberwolves are honoring the life and memory of Tire Nichols with a moment of silence before Friday’s game.

Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins watched a televised interview Friday of Tire Nichols’ mother talking about the loss of her son and lost control of his emotions.

“I cried,” Jenkins said.

Resentment, frustration, sadness and anger were evident around the NBA on Friday, the day video was released showing how Nichols, a 29-year-old father, was killed by five Memphis police officers. The league, along with several teams, issued statements of support for the family, as did the National Basketball Players Association.

And the emotions surrounding the league were palpable, as has been the case so many times after so many other incidents of police violence against black men and women in recent years.

“This is just crazy,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who opened his pregame news conference Friday by talking about Nichols before taking any questions.

The officers, all of whom are also black, all face second-degree murder charges, as well as charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. And the Grizzlies played a game in Minneapolis — the city where George Floyd, a black man, was killed after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck in an act that sparked protests around the world over police brutality and racism — Friday night with heavy . hearts.

“The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard,” Jenkins told Bally Sports, the Grizzlies’ broadcast partner, in a pregame interview from Minnesota. “It’s been tough being on the road, not being at home. I wish I could reach out my arms through this camera right now to the family. They go through a lot.”

There was a moment of silence before the game in Minnesota. And afterward, Jenkins continued to speak out about what it means to the Grizzlies to represent Memphis at such a difficult time.

“There are a lot more difficult things in town than what’s going on with our basketball right now,” Jenkins said after Memphis’ 111-100 loss at Minnesota. “I’m proud of our guys that go out there. We play with heavy hearts, but we also play for our city, which is going through a lot right now.”

Several teams, including Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota and Milwaukee, along with Memphis, released statements.

“We are outraged by the fatal beating that Tire Nichols received from five Memphis police officers,” the Bucks said in their statement. “While the officers being charged for their heinous actions is an important step for justice, this incident further underscores the need for progress in improving police-community relations.”

The NBA released its statement about two hours after the video of Nichols’ death was released, as protests took place in several cities in response to the images.

“The images of Tire Nichols’ life needlessly cut short are horrific,” the league said. “While there have been steps toward accountability in this case, the NBA family remains committed to working with advocates, policymakers and law enforcement to work toward solutions to the problems we continue to face.”

Nichols was on his way home from taking pictures of the sky on January 7 when police pulled him over. He was only minutes from the home he shared with his mother and stepfather.

Video of the killing was released Friday night.

“Our hearts go out to the entire Memphis community as they process and deal with this terrible tragedy, and we stand by the rightful arrest of all officers involved,” the NBPA said. “Such aggressive policing and excessive force illustrate the continued need for accountability in the justice system.”

The union said it would “continue to monitor the investigation and legal proceedings in search of justice for Tyre and his family.”

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but called for peace.

Jenkins also said he hopes the citizens of Memphis rally around each other.

“My words will only mean so much,” Jenkins said. “I want to continue to encourage people to put their arms around each other, put their arms around the Nichols family, the Wells family to remember a beautiful life in Tire Nichols — that I didn’t know, but I’m learning about.”

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