While many teams from the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS expressed condolences and sadness regarding Floyd’s death, the Knicks — one of the NBA’s flagship franchises in the nation’s largest media market — opted against it.
Knicks owner James Dolan told employees in an internal email that the team wouldn’t be making a statement, ESPN reported.
“This is a turbulent time in our country. The coronavirus and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of respect and peaceful workplace. We always will,” the email reportedly said. “As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters.”
“We are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters.”
— James Dolan, owner, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are now an outlier in terms of NBA teams weighing in on the issue of racism amid the George Floyd protests taking hold throughout the U.S.
Knicks players and employees were “furious” over the lack of public team statement on Floyd, ESPN’s Pablo Torres reported.
But some fans said the Knicks made the right move.
“Why do they need to make a public statement?” one fan asked. “Because everybody else has? I think 99.9% of people agree in this country that what happened to George Floyd was an awful thing.”
“THIS IS A NON STORY,” another fan wrote. “We the people don’t care about well crafted Twitter post from ANY sports team right now. Cheap hacky piling on by @espn.”
In contrast, the NHL’s New York Islanders, for example, issued a statement, saying “we condemn racism and injustice and stand with all affected by senselelss violence. We must come together, treating each other with empathy, dignity and respect.”
Among NBA teams, the San Antonio Spurs joined the Knicks in refraining from making a comment — even though the NBA, with prominently African-American players, routinely speaks out on social issues.
However, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, a frequent critic of President Trump, spoke against racism in an interview with The Nation on Monday.
“It’s so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that ‘black lives matter.’ Just say those three words,” Popovich said. “But he won’t and he can’t. He can’t because it’s more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed some recent deaths of black people as part of an internal memo obtained by NBA.com
“I spent the weekend watching the protests around the country over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. As a league, we share the outrage and offer our sincere condolences to their families and friends. Just as we are fighting a pandemic, which is impacting communities and people of color more than anyone else, we are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” Silver said.
“Racism, police brutality, and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored. At the same time, those who serve and protect our communities honorably and heroically are again left to answer for those who don’t.”
While the Knicks had yet to comment, the team’s point guard, Dennis Smith Jr., attended a protest in Fayetteville, N.C, the hometiwn of both Smith and Floyd, according to the ESPN.
Floyd, 46, died after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed a knee against Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Footage released of the incident showed Floyd shouting, “I cannot breathe” and “Don’t kill me.”
Chauvin has since been fired and arrested, and faces murder and manslaughter charges. Three other officers also were fired in connection with the case.