Players from the NBA’s Washington Wizards and Women’s NBA champion Washington Mystics marched Friday to the memorial for civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., seeking social justice reforms.
Wizards stars Bradley Beal, John Wall and Rui Hachimura and Mystics guard Natasha Cloud were among those who marched in the US capital on “Juneteenth” — the day recognized for when, in 1865, the last slaves in Texas were told by US soldiers they had been freed.
“We have a voice, we have a platform and it’s one of the ways we’re going to utilize it,” Beal said. “(We march for) social issues like police brutality, racism, education, prison reform.
“The most difficult thing in solving one is that there will be another. These things need patience and people fully commited to change.”
The King memorial is only a few blocks away from Black Lives Matter Plaza, where most protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in police custody were staged.
Beal revealed he had been the victim of an arbitrary police check two years ago on the Beltway road around Washington, saying, “I didn’t do anything, but because I was a black athlete driving a nice vehicle, that’s why he came over.”
Beal, 26, was averaging 30.5 points — second-best in the NBA — plus 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists a game when the NBA season shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wizards are set to be among 22 NBA clubs to resume the season next month in a “bubble” environment in Orlando, Florida.
Cloud vowed to continue the progress that has been made in recent weeks to combat systemic racism.
“We will no longer be silent in the face of racism, oppression, police brutality, black men and women killed every day in the streets,” she said.
“Our white counterparts need to be co-conspirators. Being an ally, posting a picture on Instagram isn’t enough. We need you to help us in this fight.”
The Mystics will defend their title starting next month in a 22-game season without fans staged at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery has said she will skip the 2020 WNBA campaign to focus on promoting social justice causes, the first player to opt out of the season.