Chris Webber delivered an emotional response to the NBA player walkout Wednesday in protest of police brutality against Black people.
The TNT analyst and five-time NBA All-Star was scheduled to call a playoff game Wednesday night. When the three-game slate was postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks declined to take the floor Wednesday afternoon, the network instead looked to Webber for his thoughts on the protest.
Webber: ‘They have everybody’s attention’
He applauded the players for sacrificing games and using their platform of the NBA playoffs to draw attention to Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man and father of three who was shot in the back multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I’m very proud of the players,” Webber said. “I don’t know the next steps. Don’t really care what the next steps are because the first steps are to garner attention. And they have everybody’s attention around the world right now.”
Webber choked back tears as he talked about explaining to his autistic nephew why Wednesday’s games were postponed. He then invoked civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers while encouraging players to move forward with their cause in the face what often seems like insurmountable opposition.
Webber: ‘You are starting something’
“We know nothing is gonna change,” Webber said. “We get it. Martin Luther King got shot, and risked his life — Medgar Evers. We’ve seen this in all of our heroes constantly taken down. We understand that it’s not gonna end.
“But that does not mean young men that you don’t do anything. Don’t listen to these people telling you don’t do anything because it’s not gonna end right away. You are starting something for the next generation and the next generation to take over.”
Why Webber watches videos of Black deaths
Webber then discussed the images and videos that have inundated news feeds in the social media era of violence against Black people. Easy access to videos of people being killed has become commonplace in recent years and has shed light on the plight of Black Americans.
Webber said that he watches those videos to honor the member of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly showing a white woman attention. Till’s mother insisted that his body be displayed in an open casket at his Chicago memorial, and the image of his beaten face published by Jet magazine became a beacon of the civil rights movement.
“The only reason I watch the videos of the death of black men ... is because Emmett Till’s mother decided to put him on the cover and decided to put his picture out there when he was so brutally killed years ago,” Webber said. “I always think about her strength.”
“Because if she didn’t put that picture out to show what lynching, what the KKK, what others were doing — that right there opened America’s eyes in a lot of ways. It got the attention. That gruesome, ugly picture of a young boy not even old enough to vote being killed for a lie.”
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