Ahead of the NBA's slate of games Friday night, coaches, players and NBPA shared thoughts and statements on death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was brutally beaten by five officers of the Memphis Police Department while handcuffed in early January. Recordings of the beating, which were captured by the officers' body cameras as well as a street surveillance camera, were released to the public Friday night.
The incident followed a traffic stop in Memphis on Jan. 7, and Nichols, who had been hospitalized since the beating, died on Jan. 10 as a result of the injuries he sustained, officials said. The five officers, who are Black, were fired on Jan. 20 and charged with variety of crimes, including second-degree murder, on Jan. 26.
The NBPA released the following statement on Nichols' death:
"Our players mourn the loss of Tyre Nichols and extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Nichols family during this difficult time. Our hearts go out to the entire Memphis community as they are processing and dealing with this horrible tragedy, and we stand by the rightful arrest of all officers involved. Such aggressive policing and excessive force illustrate the continued need for accountability in the justice system. We will continue to monitor the investigation and legal proceedings in search of justice for Tyre and his family."
The videos were released to the public shortly before the start of the Memphis Grizzlies-Minnesota Timberwolves game in Minneapolis, and Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins spoke on the incident before his team took the court.
"Our team understands that our city's hurting, the Nichols and [his mother RowVaughn] Wells family's hurting right now, the senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard," Jenkins said. "It's been tough being on the road, and not being home, I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They're going through a lot. I watched the interview with the family today and hearing Mrs. Wells talk with so much strength, positivity and love was powerful. It invoked a lot of emotions, I cried."
Taylor Jenkins with a thorough and thoughtful statement about the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. pic.twitter.com/jDAtkoYdHb— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) January 27, 2023
Following the release of the video, two Shelby County deputies were also relieved of duty for their involvement in Nichols' arrest. In addition to second-degree murder charges the five former police officers are also facing charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Former NBPA president Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the matter, saying, "Change is needed at all levels and we all need to do our part. We can't lose our humanity as a society. To the Nichols' family and Memphis community, my heart is with you tonight."
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who hadn't seen the video yet before his team's game, said the incident sounded "horrifying" and the Heat released a statement saying in part, "Our hearts are broken, yet again, with the killing of Tyre Nichols: A son, a brother, a father and a friend ... While we are encouraged by the dual efforts of the Memphis Chief of Police and the District Attorney's office to take swift action, this tragic case underscores that demanding accountability from those who abuse their power is the first step in ending the abuse of power."
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, "I don't know if we have anything planned yet as a team. We've all been following the news, and it's awful and disgusting. Really tough, tough thing to watch, you know, when the video came out. So we will be discussing that internally."