LaVine, Young have their own perspective on BLM protests
The life of a multimillionaire NBA player would appear to be well-sheltered from complaints of police harassment and altercation.
Clearly it's not, as a couple of well-known cases proved.
Former Bulls guard Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken during a confrontation with New York police in 2015. Sefolosha, who played for Atlanta at the time, was leaving a Manhattan night club early in the morning.
Police said he ignored commands to leave the area, where another NBA player, Milwaukee's Chris Copeland, had been stabbed. Sefolosha was at the club with a Hawks teammate and unaware of the situation with Copeland. Sefolosha missed the rest of the season and later received a $4 million settlement from the NYPD.
Milwaukee's Sterling Brown was tackled and tazed by a group of officers in a Walgreens parking lot in 2018. His crime was illegally parking in a handicapped space.
Body-camera footage of this incident is alarming. Brown can be seen standing calmly in the parking lot and talking to an officer. He was slowly surrounded by multiple Milwaukee police officers, who closed in and wrestled him to the ground.
Brown, a Proviso East grad and younger brother of former Bull Shannon Brown, filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee, citing excessive use of force. Brown led a Black Lives Matter protest in Milwaukee last week.
Current Bulls players Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young didn't talk about any bad encounters with police when they spoke to reporters in a recent teleconference.
LaVine has a common perspective on the state of racism in America. Like Sefolosha, LaVine's father is black and his mother is white.
"I just don't want this to become a race thing," LaVine said. "It's terrible to say that, but growing up, you have to know what's right and wrong. Everything right now is being so magnified that you could have a stance on one side or another when really you need to just understand what's going on and not have a racial bias.
"We're all one. We're in this together. This affects everybody. I think there are a lot of things that need to be changed. But if we come together, I think we can all do that."
The day before speaking to reporters, LaVine attended a rally in his hometown of Seattle that featured several area pro athletes and was organized in part by former Bulls guard Jamal Crawford.
LaVine said he told the crowd he had never voted but plans to reverse that habit and educate himself on candidates at all levels of government.
"Just educate yourself. Be active," LaVine said. "Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and be different either. Go out there and try to make a change even if you have an opinion and you're the only one in the room talking. Don't be afraid of that.
"I think now with what's going on everybody has a certain opinion, and now that everybody is talking it's OK to have that opinion. If something settles down and you're the only one with an opinion, I think it's a little bit harder for someone to speak up. So don't feel scared about that. Go out there and do what's right for you."
Young spoke from the perspective of having two young sons, ages 6 and 9, who are asking plenty of questions about the protests and violence. Young was asked if he had a message for white Bulls fans.
"I would just strongly encourage them to make sure that if they're on our side -- which they should be, because what's right is right, what's wrong is wrong -- to get out and show that we're a unified group," Young said. "Just be behind us and do the right thing. Also on down the line, teach the younger generation that this wasn't right.
"You should treat everybody equal, you should look at everybody the same way. You never talk or speak down to anybody, nor do harm to anybody. Also fight for what's right. Fight for the right thing and do the right thing. So those are the things that I would probably say."
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