‘Violence never wins’: Pence condemns Capitol riot

NBA plays on with a ‘heavy heart’ after Capitol riots as players and coaches kneel for national anthem

Players and coaches from the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat knelt for the national anthem prior to their game that came after pro-Donald Trump supporters used force to enter the Capitol building

Ben Burrows@benburrows_
Thursday 07 January 2021 09:46
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The NBA played on "with a heavy heart" on Wednesday just hours after rioters stormed Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

Players and coaches from the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat knelt for the national anthem prior to their game that came after pro-Donald Trump supporters used force to enter the Capitol building to protest the result of November's presidential elections.

In Milwaukee, the Bucks and Detroit Pistons both intentionally took turnovers on their first possessions with all 10 players on the court kneeling.

In Phoenix, the Suns and Toronto Raptors stood in a circle and linked arms for the American and Canadian anthems with many other tributes taking place around league.

Wednesday's events came one day after it was confirmed the police officer who shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year would not be charged.

Blake's shooting was one of the many issues players focused on last season in the NBA restart bubble, where the issues of racial injustice and police brutality were a constant focus with a number of high-profile players including LeBron James taking a stand.

A joint statement from the Celtics and Heat read: "2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed.

"We play tonight's game with a heavy heart after yesterday's decision in Kenosha and knowing that protestors in our nation's capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on.

"The drastic difference between the way protestors this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today's protestors who acted illegally just shows how much work we have to do.

"We have decided to play tonight's game to try to bring joy into people's lives.

"But we must not forget the injustices in today's society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America."

Players from the Boston Celtics kneel for the national anthem

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers spoke of the stark difference between rallies across America last summer that often included violent skirmishes between protesters and police and what he watched at the Capitol on Wednesday.

"It basically proves the point about a privileged life in a lot of ways," he said. "The symbolism of storming the Capitol without force done to them, if you're a Black American, it definitely touches you in a different way. This is not a Black thing. This is an American thing.

"Can you imagine today, if those were all Black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened?"

"No police dogs turned on people, no billy clubs hitting people, people peacefully being escorted out of the Capitol. It shows that you can disperse a crowd peacefully.

"That, to me, is a picture that's worth a thousand words for all of us to see."

Additional reporting by AP

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