Timberwolves HC Ryan Saunders Discusses Privilege After George Floyd's Death

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2020

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

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders acknowledged his role in helping his team following George Floyd's death after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers Monday could simply be to listen.

The 34-year-old discussed his mindset Wednesday with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

"I am a white male in a position of leadership, and I don't take lightly the fact that I have not experienced some of these things that our individual guys have had to experience. So I wanted to make sure we were listeners, that we could become more educated as people completely inexperienced in never getting the benefit of the doubt. I grew up in Minnesota and this hasn't been sitting well with me for the past two days. Sometimes the silence can be deafening too. When we're given opportunity to speak on what's right, I think it's important to do that."

Saunders held a Zoom meeting with Timberwolves players, coaches and executives, actively listening to learn from his team and staff. 

"He wanted us to feel his presence on this, even if he isn't African American," guard Malik Beasley said. "He didn't try to force it. It was genuine."

Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said it was a chance to use their time together to help their players. 

"We wanted to allow them to get their feelings and emotions out on the table and then try to move past the pain and anger so we can impact some positive change," Rosas said.

Floyd's death has made national news and spurred outrage among citizens, leading to widespread protests.

The Timberwolves provided a statement as a team while several members of the organization have spoken about the incident on social media:

Minnesota Timberwolves @Timberwolves


Josh Okogie @CallMe_NonStop

Regardless of your race, background, and your upbringing.. no human’s life is more precious than the next. These killings should not be normalized...

Gersson Rosas @GerssonRosas

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd @ Minneapolis, Minnesota https://t.co/zhKvUMqDKC

Others around the NBA have referenced the situation, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James who defended Colin Kaepernick's protests against racial injustice and police violence in an Instagram post.

Saunders wanted to bring his team together to discuss the issue before engaging with the rest of the local community.