Erik Spoelstra, the only Asian American head coach in the north American major sports scene, led a one of a kind townhall to commemorate Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the end of slavery in America.
Spoelstra said the Miami Heat wants to see change.
“We want to show full support of the Black Lives Matter movement as a team and an organization. Secondly, to the Heat fans, Heat nation, we just want to acknowledge, we’ve been listening to you and we hear you.”
Members of the Miami Heat, which has a diverse roster, spoke on personal incidents of racism, police profiling, white privilege, as well as social justice and police brutality issues in their communities.
“In many ways, this townhall is our virtual team peaceful protest and we are protesting against systemic racism, against social injustices and social inequalities in the cases of police brutality in the cases we see far too often. We’re fed up with it just like everyone else.”
“This is crazy that this is the world we live in, now it’s the time for change. It has been for so long, and now that everybody is coming together we just gotta stay unified in that. It’s not one versus another, it’s everybody,” said Jimmy Butler.
As players spoke about solutions from using their resources to help underprivileged youth, to opening multi-cultural dialogue, coach Spo, said one initiative the team will look into is making their votes count.
“Voting, when you say education, learning about that process, getting registered, and voting, myself included, I have to get very educated in that. It’s not just about the presidential elections, but mayors, police chiefs, judges, state attorneys, school boards, commissioners. We have to educate ourselves.”
While there have been questions on whether it is appropriate for players to resume the season next month in this socio-political climate, many of the Heat players have expressed their determination to use the court as a platform to raise their voices.