Derek Chauvin conviction on Clippers' and Trail Blazers' minds Tuesday night

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Andrew Greif
·4 min read
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Los Angeles Clippers center DeMarcus Cousins, center, talks with official referee Scott Foster, right, as Portland Trail Blazers forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, left, listens during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 20, 2021. The Clippers won 113-112. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Clippers' DeMarcus Cousins, center, talks with referee Scott Foster as the Trail Blazers' Rondae Hollis-Jefferson listens April 20 in Portland. (Steve Dykes / Associated Press)

Describing progress and pain, the Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday reacted to the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin with “mixed emotions,” as Los Angeles center DeMarcus Cousins said, after the Clippers’ 113-112 victory.

Eleven months after Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, leading to a death that sparked outrage and calls for racial justice around the world and within the NBA, the league’s players and coaches said they welcomed the jury’s decision Tuesday to convict Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

“They made the right decision,” Clippers star Paul George said, minutes after scoring 33 points. “For the nation, that’s a step in the right direction.”

It was just one step toward accountability regarding violence involving law enforcement, “something we’ve been fighting for for years,” Cousins said.

“Today we took a step forward with actually getting some progress, but it sucks because in order for that to happen, a life had to be sacrificed, and not only was it George Floyd, but the countless others that, throughout the years, have gone through these same situations,” Cousins said. “And it sucks. But like I said, progress was made, it’s a step forward. Hopefully it’s a situation that corrects itself, and it sucks because there was another shooting today in Ohio with a young teenage girl.

“I won’t feel better about it till it’s corrected all the way. Shouldn’t be allowed, we shouldn’t still be having to deal with these same situations. Law enforcement’s job is to protect and serve. They should stand by those words and correct them and maybe we’ll be able to say we feel better about it.”

Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison. Following the verdict, numerous NBA teams issued statements, including the Clippers, whose 33-second video said, in part, that “Black Lives Matter is more than a phrase … it’s a commitment to do more.”

“It doesn't bring George Floyd back, you know,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said before tipoff, three hours after the verdict was returned. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family. … It’s still a sad day because it doesn't bring him back, but it is good to see that people are being held, you know, accountable for their actions.”

In September, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) addressed the Clippers virtually during a postseason practice to discuss how they could help apply pressure on lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The legislation, which would ban chokeholds and end “qualified immunity” for police, among other measures, passed the House last month but faces significant hurdles to pass the Senate.

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, a vice president of the National Basketball Players Assn., said he had conferred with the union's executive committee in recent days to share information and discuss what might happen had Chauvin not been found guilty.

As a Black man, he said it had been difficult to watch the trial.

“Obviously with the body cam and things of that nature, someone tweeted basically, ‘We watched it in 4K and it still felt like a 16-seed beating a one-seed in order for it to be a guilty verdict,’ and I don’t think it should be like that at this point in my life, especially here in America,” McCollum said. “And I think going forward, there are probably thousands of cases in similar situations where there is no body cam, there is no footage, and it is just a he-say, she-say situation, which more often times than not, the cops get off.

“But I think there is a lot of change that needs to be done. In terms of law enforcement, I think the George Floyd bill should be passed. I think we are taking steps in the right direction, but we have a long, long ways to go as a society, especially when it comes to law enforcement, and how the Black and brown people have been treated historically.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.