The NBA world reacted Friday to the release of videos that showed the January 7th traffic stop that preceded the death of Tyre Nichols, who spent three days in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
In the videos, police allegedly use pepper spray on Nichols while punching and kicking the 29-year-old, leaving him bloodied and dazed.
The brutal encounter led to the firing of five Memphis police officers who now face charges, including second-degree murder.
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For the Memphis Grizzlies, Nichols’ death hit close to home as the team prepared to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night in Minneapolis.
Prior to the game, and prior to the release of the video, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins provided his thoughts as his team prepared to play.
“The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard,” Jenkins said. “And it’s been tough being on the road, not being home. And I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They’re going through a lot.”
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Jenkins said he watched a televised interview of Nichols’ mother speaking about her son’s death earlier in the day, saying that it made him cry.
“We’re here again, sadly. With a loss of life to police brutality is something you can’t fathom,” Jenkins continued. “As the head coach of this team, trying to get everyone to understand the responsibilities we have moving forward beyond basketball. This is a stark reminder of what position we’re in to unify our city. Our city has great soul. Our city has great love for each other.”
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“This is obviously a tough moment for our city to manage, and deal with, and cope with, and recover from. But we will get through it. I know the family, watching that interview today, will get through it. But we’re going to do this with a heavy heart but also remembering a beautiful life that was lost. And hopefully, we can celebrate that life and remember that life of Tyre Nichols proudly. Representing our city proudly.”
A moment of silence was held before the game was played, and the NBA released a statement.
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“The images of Tyre Nichols’ life needlessly cut short are horrifying. While there have been steps toward accountability in this instance, the NBA family remains committed to partnering with advocates, policymakers and law enforcement to work toward solutions to the issues we face,” the NBA said. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr. Nichols, the entire Memphis community and those who are affected by these tragic images and loss.