Basketball stars in the NBA and WNBA have been at the forefront of the fight for equality, using their voices to try and effect change.
Tuesday marked a year to the day since Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin and players in both leagues reflected on what has transpired in that time.
“It’s crazy to see,” Washington Wizards star guard Bradley Beal told reporters. “It’s fast how a year went by, that quick. It brings back the crazy silence around the world, the feeling of numbness of the event and everything that we’re trying to do and to continue to push forward to this day. His [Floyd’s] name doesn’t go unnoticed. We take pride in it. He’s kind of a martyr in a lot of ways.”
Beal’s head coach, Scott Brooks, added: “There should be no debate on racial inequality. There should be no debate. It should not be even a discussion. For us to have that discussion, it means we still have a lot of work to do.”
Players from the WNBA’s Washington Mystics focused on police reform following Tuesday’s win over the Indiana Fever.
Natasha Cloud, who didn’t play in the WNBA’s Disney bubble in order to focus on her own activism efforts, chose not to speak about Tuesday’s game at all, saying: “We need to ban chokeholds and other restrictive maneuvers. We need to end qualified immunity for all government actors. Don’t back down. Keep raising your voice.
“Tell Congress we need better accountability policies to meaningfully address rampant systemic racism and policing. Ban racial and religious profiling. Prohibit no-knock warrants. Breonna Taylor — say her name.”
President Joe Biden had set May 25 — the anniversary of George Floyd’s death — as the deadline for passing the legislation. The negotiators have maintained they are not adhering to any timelines, instead saying they want the right bill, not a rushed bill.
Mystics guard Ariel Atkins, who was the voice for the team when it led a league-wide boycott following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, spoke on whether things were better now than they were a year ago.
“I want to say yes and no,” she told reporters. “I say yes because it’s visual. We see it. We’re listening. We’re trying to have these conversations. But I say no because the hard things need to be done. We don’t want a day. We don’t want a week. We don’t want a month. We want things to actually be changed on the ground.
“We need the foundation to be cracked a little bit because this country honestly was built on power that’s not taking care of everybody. It wasn’t built with everybody in mind. We need to break it down from the ground up and find a way to rebuild it if we really want to talk about unity and freedom. It needs to be for all.”
In other sports, Formula One star Lewis Hamilton posted a moving tribute to Floyd and his family on Instagram.
Hamilton, one of the most vocal athletes on the planet, has used his platform to speak out against racial and social injustice and has led F1’s push to try and make the sport more inclusive and diverse.
“What does justice mean for a daughter who lost her dad?” he wrote. “For a woman who lost her partner? For a man who lost his brother? What does justice mean when a man’s life is stolen because of nothing more than the colour of his skin?
“George wasn’t supposed to die that day. One year later, the impact of his life and its unfair ending remains with us. Today, we will mourn George and keep his loved ones in our prayers. But how can we achieve real justice for him, and the many lives stolen before and after his?”
He added: “We never forget. We continue our work. We believe in a world where children like George’s don’t have to worry about whether their dad will come home at night. Where every black person can walk down the street with the belief that this world was made for them. We work to build an equal world for George, for his children, and for all the other victims of racism.
“Rest in peace, George Floyd. Your time here was cut far too short. Your legacy will last forever.”