BOSTON (CBS) — Celtics head coach Brad Stevens would have much rather been watching film of the Miami Heat on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, he spent the day watching the riot at the U.S Capitol in Washington D.C. unfold.
When Stevens spoke to the media at 6 p.m. ahead of Boston’s game against Miami, he was asked just one question about basketball. Most of the inquiries focused on Stevens’ thoughts on the events at the Capitol, and Stevens did not hold back. The Boston coach lashed out at President Donald Trump and his supporters responsible for the mayhem.
“I watched it all. I assume our players watched it all. I guess my reaction is sad,” said Stevens. “I think we all hope that the people we elect to lead us are supposed to be modeling leadership and do so in a way that is motivated by serving others, by showing compassion, by acting gracefully. Instead, we elected a president, who luckily is on his way out, and others that have not shown that kind of grace. It has been consistent and they just operated in a win-at-all-costs attitude.
“Our sports world is a lot less important, but I always thought if you operated with that attitude, it’s going to be a pretty unfulfilled ending,” he continued. “In this instance, a disgraceful ending. I’m looking forward to two weeks from now, as I know a lot of people are.”
The Celtics had already returned to their hotel when the chaos in the capital began to escalate, so Stevens said that he had not spoken to his players about the riots before talking with reporters. He said that the team had discussed the news that the officer who shot Jacob Blake would not face charges, as well as the new police reform bill that passed in Massachusetts, leading to a “heavy” 24-48 hours for the team.
Stevens is hoping for a better future come inauguration day, but knows that a new president will not immediately solve the issues plaguing the country. Like many, he noted the differences in how Wednesday’s riots were handled by law enforcement, compared to the Black Lives Matter protests from over the summer..
“My own personal takeaway is the same as many of you: That we have a long way to go. My personal belief is two weeks from now we’ll be in a better spot, but we still have a long way to go,” said Stevens .”We have to continue to prioritize it. Not only ask about and talk about, but do something about it.”
Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Celtics walked off the floor in Miami together during pre-game warmups, as did the Heat. The Celtics and the Heat released a joint statement shortly before tip-off:
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, 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 drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do.
“We have decided to play tonight’s game to try 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.”
Both the Celtics and the Heat took a knee during the National Anthem ahead of Wednesday’s game.