In a letter to each of his players, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens voiced his willingness to listen and plan to act.
Written over the weekend after protests began calling for justice for George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Stevens’ letter was meant to let his players know that he — and others — feel their pain.
“I wrote a letter to our guys this weekend and it took me awhile to put down exactly what I wanted to say,” Stevens said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday. “But I think the thing I wanted them to know, is every decent person is hurting. Every decent person feels the pain of the African American community.
“But I also don’t want to pretend that I know the exact, distinct pain. What I wanted them to know is that I’m with them. I thought that was really important. It’s so, so great to see so many of the guys so active. ... I’ve talked to a lot of guys. Everybody’s hurting. Let’s put it that way. The leadership they’ve shown is terrific.”
Stevens, who applauded social media messages from former President Barack Obama in the past several days, said the motive is to promote a “long-term sustainable action that creates change.”
Several players on the Celtics’ roster took active roles in protests and demonstrations, including Jaylen Brown, who drove 15 hours to participate in a march in his native Atlanta on Saturday. Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter were present at a protest in Boston on Sunday.
Stevens is part of a committee for racial injustice created on Monday. It came together quickly during a call with the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who took to heart the notion they haven’t done enough to help or promote minority inclusion in their profession.
“I think the players have done an amazing job of leading, and also taking control of their careers, being vocal on what’s important to them,” Stevens said. “And the league, I think, has generally done a really good job of embracing that and really encouraging people to be active.
“There’s no question that like many other leagues, those things have to be addressed. The one thing, we were on a coaches call with all 30 coaches the other day and one thing I heard from a number of coaches was that as white coaches, we have a lot of responsibility.”