Timberwolves' Ryan Saunders: 'My Heart Shatters' over George Floyd's Death

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders looks on in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders reacted to the death of George Floyd, which occurred after a Minneapolis police officer pinned Floyd to the ground Monday. 

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic shared Saunders' Instagram post, noting it is rare to see the coach on social media:

Jon Krawczynski @JonKrawczynski

Wolves Coach Ryan Saunders is almost never on social media. He took to Instagram today to speak out on George Floyd’s death https://t.co/tZyoqG4v7y

"My heart shatters in what transpired the past 36 hours," the message read in part. "Events like a defenseless black man dying continue to happen, therefore we cannot continue to be 'shocked.' We must be better. Our friends, our family and our neighbors should all be able to walk down a street and live in our community without fear, no matter the race."

Christina Maxouris of CNN noted Floyd "died after pleading that he couldn't breathe while a police officer held him down with a knee on his neck."

The four police officers involved—including Derek Chauvin, who had his knee on Floyd—were all fired, and authorities are investigating, however, no charges have been filed. Video from those around the scene captured Floyd saying he could not breathe while he was handcuffed and pressed to the ground.

Saunders is far from the only NBA personality to react.

LeBron James posted a photo of himself wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt Wednesday, which a number of NBA players wore in 2014 during warm-ups. The push by NBA players to wear the shirts came after a grand jury did not indict New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo following the death of Eric Garner.

Garner, like Floyd, was an unarmed black man who said "I can't breathe" a handful of times after he was placed in a chokehold by Pantaleo.

James also posted a picture of Colin Kaepernick protesting police violence and racial injustice in this country by kneeling during the national anthem juxtaposed with an image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd with the message "Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you??"

Elsewhere, retired NBA swingman Stephen Jackson called Floyd his "twin" and posted an emotional message to his friend on Instagram:

"The love is diff when u really wanna see your brother win. Twin was really living through me. He was talented in 2 sports and the difference between me and bro was I had more opportunity than he did. 2 things we have in common both from the bottom and both of our names will live forever. U will remember the name George Floyd. Love u twin. Rest Easy. Love to all who have love for all. I mean that." 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called the incident "murder" and disgusting."

Steve Kerr @SteveKerr

This is murder. Disgusting. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with US???? https://t.co/wesEwd4Bb2

Kerr and former Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy are working with the Players Coalition, which is a group of athletes working to promote social justice and racial equality, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

"We have to do something about it," Kerr said. "I think in particular ... white people need to stand up and say we're not gonna stand for this. All we have to do is imagine if the roles were reversed, the races were reversed, it would be a completely different outcome." 

Van Gundy also opened up on the topic:

"I've never met a single black parent that doesn't have to sit their kids down and talk to them very directly about how you deal with the police if you're stopped. 'You do this, this and this, so you come home alive.' I started getting more of that in my career. I'm like holy [expletive]. I've never once talked to my kids about that or felt the need to. If my kid got pulled over, it was because they deserved to get pulled over. Even if they mouthed off, nobody was gonna shoot them."

The Minnesota Vikings also released a statement that said, "We are deeply saddened by the loss of life that occurred Monday evening just blocks from our stadium. Everyone in our community deserves the right to feel protected and safe. Our thoughts are with the George Floyd family and all individuals who have been affected by this tragedy."