As the Indiana Pacers prepare to restart their season in Orlando on Aug. 1, the team has made it very clear that off-the-court issues of racial inequality are still of high priority.
While players like Justin Holiday and Malcolm Brogdon have clearly expressed their feelings via public statements, their teammates have also shared feelings of solidarity in continuing the fight for equality in America.
Having been a part of several Zoom calls with players and staff over the last few weeks, our Seth Johnson assembled a collection of quotes from the Indiana Pacers reflecting their stance on racial injustice as a team.
We are magnificent humans and creatures by nature, so we have the ability to do more than one thing at a high level if we really put our minds to it. Yes, I do my job everyday. I go and I work out. I do my rehab. But that’s only four or five hours in 24 hours. So the rest of my time I can use to impact what truly matters, and that’s what I’m trying to do now.
My job is to make sure that we don’t forget. Obviously, COVID is going on, and that’s pretty much out of my control and a lot of our control. You can just pray and wait, and hopefully they find a vaccine and things go back to normal very soon. As far as the social injustice, it’s my job, and guys like myself, to make sure people don’t forget.
At the end of the day, the problem isn’t solved. No matter how many marches we’ve done. No matter how many meetings and quotes we’ve seen. The problem isn’t solved yet. So it’s my job and the job of my peers to make sure that we never forget until the problem is solved.
Justin Holiday (On why he chose to play in Orlando after being on the fence)
First and foremost, I wanted to make sure I utilize the platform I have to be able to speak up and help make change with the social injustice and racial issues that we have in America. Not going down there and playing didn’t give me the same platform, as it would’ve if I went to go play.
(On actions he and the team plan on taking)
We have some warm-up shirts that we all agreed on wearing, and hopefully it’s not a problem. I don’t think it should be, but you have to make sure all that is good. That’ll be the first thing we’ll be doing, but then there are more things we need to talk about as a team with what we’re going to do.
I know there are things I’m going to be doing myself and one is to keep the narrative going as far as speaking about the things that are happening to African Americans and all people of color in America. I’m also thinking about actually telling some people’s stories about the things they’ve experienced in life. I’ve had a lot of friends that didn’t know how my life was growing up or the things that I’ve been through being a Black man.
There are other things that I’m going to be doing off the court that have nothing to do with being in Orlando. Obviously, giving back and certain things like that. Once I get all of that finalized and taken care of, I don’t really care if it’s public or not, but you’ll probably hear about some things.
The main thing about all of this is I want us all to be able to love one another, and I want positivity. Obviously, we know that’s not going to happen. Some people, no matter what color you are, are just angry or just want to be hateful, and it is what it is. But the more people you can get to just be positive, hear your story, hear you out and tell their stories and have positive conversations regardless of whether you agree at first or not … that’s just what I’m trying to get to.
Basketball feels like it’s second going down to Orlando. I encourage everyone to listen to Malcolm Brogdon’s conversation with J.J. Redick on his podcast. It was really good, and it helped educate me a lot on the topic. Obviously, Justin wrote the piece on The Players’ Tribune, which was very powerful as well.
Honestly, enough is enough. It’s embarrassing and it’s sad what’s gone on in our country in recent times, and frankly the last hundreds of years. It’s sad, but I think it’s most important to educate ourselves. And I think going down to Orlando will give us that platform to promote real change.
It’s very important, and we have a platform to bring awareness to what’s going on. It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed, and we’re going to try to address it to the best of our abilities while playing basketball. It’s definitely going to be an opportunity for all the NBA teams to be able to utilize their platform.
As a whole, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done as far as the stuff that’s going on off the floor, and I think we’re still focusing a lot of our efforts in that area. Personally, basketball has just been able to be an escape for me. It’s something that I’m able to go out there and not worry about what’s going on in the world. Once I’m out there in the real world, that’s when I use my platform and use the people around me to make change.
For me, I’m just trying to sit back, listen and educate myself. That’s all I think I can really do and help in any way that I can. [So I’m] just listening to my teammates and coaches and what they have to say and educating myself.
Aaron Holiday (On taking part in an Indianapolis march)
I chose to be a part of it because I feel that we need to continue to fight for equality. Being a Black man in America, I just feel it’s only right to help my people. The platform I have also can boost attention and get out there a little better than normal. I just tried to get out there for my people and push the equality forward.
We’ve had many conversations. KP’s done a great job every week of filling us in with Zoom calls. Everybody talks and expresses their opinion. It’s nice as a team, where we can talk about it together and stay connected.
Coach Nate McMillan (On Malcolm Brogdon’s work to fight racial injustice)
We both are experiencing the same thing, being Black men living in this country. I had seen Malcolm out protesting and heard some of the conversations that he was having in the media. I called him and was getting his thoughts on some of the things that he was thinking and his feelings that he was having at that time. I support him. I support what he was trying to do. I support his messaging out there. A lot of what he was saying I certainly was thinking.
We know we need change in this country. The last incident with Mr. Floyd I think was the breaking point for a lot of people that this can’t continue to go on, and we just continue to sweep this under the rug. A lot of people in this country, including Malcolm and myself, feel that it’s time to do something about what is happening and what has been happening in the country. As I’ve spoken to him and spoken to all of our players, a lot of our guys were hurting, and a lot of people in the organization have been hurting with what has happened here in the last few months.
As I told him, I totally support what he is trying to do. I will be trying to get out and educate myself and get involved to bring change to this country. The change that I’m looking for is a new America. An old America is something that we’ve been living in all of my life, where you just felt that there was someone trying to hold you down or hold you back from having an opportunity to be successful in this country. You’re just treated unfairly in so many different ways in this country, and I don’t understand why that’s happening and continues to happen. So it’s time for our voices to be heard that the change is necessary.
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