With news today that no officers will be directly charged in the death of Breonna Taylor, Jalen Rose used his platform to offer a heartfelt message on the pain Black athletes are playing through right now.
Over the course of about ninety seconds, Rose manages to cover a lot of incredibly important ground, and it’s clear that he’s suffering right along with the players he’s discussing, even noting that he picked out his suit tonight based on what he’d want to be wearing if he said something that got him fired.
Considering the clip is being shared widely across ESPN platforms, and justifiably so, Rose probably doesn’t have to worry about that outcome.
"While [NBA players] are out there … trying to win a championship, I understand that this is really painful to show up to work and still try to entertain."
— ESPN (@espn) September 24, 2020
The full transcript:
“I just want people to know that Blacks are hurting — and as we relate it to sports, that sports that are predominantly Black…the NBA, the WNBA and the NFL, players are performing with heavy hearts. We’re still showing up to try and do our jobs. I was in that position, and I can’t lie to you all. I was looking in my closet like, ‘I am going to wear something fresh today because if I say something to get me fired, then I was crisp.’ That’s what I was thinking.
“Because when Kyle Rittenhouse in Milwaukee, as a 17-year-old kills two people and yet three cops aren’t directly charged for killing Breonna Taylor, it shows you how they feel about Black lives in America. What I want to encourage people to do out there…my favorite sport is actually football. The most important thing in that game is field position.
“So we’re starting a game, J-Will, Paul, Maria. It is 400 years of slavery to zero. We know we’re not going to win. But you still gotta continue to move the ball forward, and put people behind you in a position to be successful. That’s what we are here to do today. That’s what the NBA players are doing today. And that’s why I applaud them.
“Because while they’re out here preforming with heavy hearts trying to win a championship, I understand that this is really painful to show up to work and try to entertain.”
During halftime, Rose was more succinct:
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) September 24, 2020
“It would also be a great day to arrest the cops that murdered Breonna Taylor!”
Again, it’s hard to imagine Rose facing any kind of discipline, as what would it even be for? NBA players are wearing jerseys with “Say Her Name” on the back. The league’s bubble postseason was halted after another police shooting of a Black man. The stories are completely intertwined; any attempt to suggest that this is somehow off-topic would be ridiculous.
Plus, Rose nicely summarized how the entertainment aspects of sports are still important even in the face of this kind of societal horror, while applauding athletes for playing through despite the struggle in an effort to use their platform and voices to effect progress. It would be very difficult to find any fault with that message or his delivery of it at any time, much less today.