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Heat and Celtics players discussed postponing their game Wednesday night, just hours after a violent mob of President Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington and forced the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s election victory to be delayed.
Though Celtics players walked off the floor minutes before tipoff, no NBA games were postponed and the contest in Miami began as scheduled around 7:30 p.m.
Most members from both teams knelt during the national anthem in peaceful protest.
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed,” read a joint statement from the Heat and Celtics. “We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha [in which a Wisconsin prosecutor declined to file charges against the white police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a black man, in August] and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on.”
The teams said “the drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given [from Trump] to today’s protestors, who acted illegally just shows how much work we have to do.”
D.C. police arrested 13 people during protests from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday night, including three who the department said were in possession of firearms, according to the Washington Post.
“All I can say is that I’m grateful knowing that hopefully nobody who looks like me is going to Capitol Hill to respond to this, because if they do, you’ll see a different response by law enforcement. You know it — and I know it.” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, who is black, told ESPN.
One female protester who charged into the Capitol was fatally shot, apparently by Capitol Police, and congress’ certification of the election resumed Wednesday night.
While the NBA rarely postpones games, the players successfully led a movement to postpone all playoff games on Aug. 26 — three days after the Blake shooting.
The Heat and Celtics players said they “decided to play [Wednesday’s] game to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our 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. #BlackLivesStillMatter.”
NBA players and Trump have been at odds over social injustice causes since he took office in 2017, leading many of them to publicly applaud his defeat in the November election.
The president has publicly called out players from all sports for kneeling during the national anthem.
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