Celtics players Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier joined in peaceful protests in Boston on Sunday evening related to the death of George Floyd.
“We want to come out here and let our voices be heard,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “We stand for truth and we stand for justice, and we won’t stop until we get justice, and that’s really what this is about. I just want to tell everyone who thinks this is something more than it is, it’s not. Despite color or gender, the truth is the truth and justice is justice, and justice hasn’t been served, and people are pissed off about it.
"So, we’re here to keep George Floyd’s name alive, and keep it going, and his legacy. Something has to change and we’re here trying to make a change.”
Floyd died last Monday after being taken into custody by Minneapolis police and having a white officer hold his knee against Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe.
The 6-foot-11 Kanter wore his green No. 11 Celtics game jersey as he stood among a throng of protestors in Boston Common Sunday. In a video posted by WCVB, he briefly addressed the crowd after introducing himself.
“First of all, I want to thank you all for what you’re doing,” Kanter said. “I really, really appreciate it. The second thing I want to say is we need change. Change cannot wait, you know? I get emotional, but we are on the right side of history, man. You know what? Black lives matter, right? Let’s go.”
On Saturday, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown completed a 15-hour drive from Boston to Atlanta, in his home state, to lead a peaceful protest through the city. He was joined by Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, a fellow National Basketball Players Association vice president.
“Being a celebrity, being an NBA player don’t exclude me from no conversations at all,” Brown said then. “First and foremost I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community…We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK.”
Late Sunday night, the Celtics issued a statement regarding the protests:
“Like many others across the country, the heartbreaking and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, along with other recent events, have left the entire Celtics organization struggling with grief and anger.
“During a time in which the phrase “new normal” has often been used as our nation has struggled with the devastation of a pandemic, we imagine and hope for a “new normal” where every citizen is afforded the same rights, has the same opportunities, receives the same treatment, and can peacefully enjoy every freedom promised to all of us.
“The Boston Celtics have always stood for the ideals of equality, understanding, and respect. We can’t simply hope and pray for these things, we need to lead through our actions. We stand with our players, employees, partners, and fans in being committed to championing the change we need. We need to be honest about confronting racism and abuse of power. We can and must demand equality for everyone. We can and will respond by committing to being part of the solution.”