Grizzlies, NBA speak out after video of Tyre Nichols' beating by Memphis police is released: 'It’s devastating'

Footage of police beating Nichols was released on Friday night, several weeks after his death

The Memphis Grizzlies took the court at the Target Center in Minneapolis shortly after officials on Friday night released footage of police brutally beating Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop.

Nichols’ death was the first thing Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins and the Grizzlies brought up after their 111-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I think the word that stands out about our group and our city is, ‘together.’ We talk about that all the time,” Jenkins said after the game, via Bally Sports. “There’s way harder things going on in the city versus what’s going on with our basketball right now. I’m proud of our guys going out there. As I said before the game, we’re playing for our city that’s going through a lot right now. It’s hard, but our guys went out there and competed … We can’t wait to get back home. It’s time to get back home to embrace our families, to embrace our community, play in front of our fans to represent our city with a lot of pride.”

Nichols was pulled over by police late on Jan. 7 in Memphis. The city released footage of the incident on Friday night, which showed the officers kicking, punching and beating Nichols with a baton. He died three days later. He was 29.

Five Memphis police officers were fired last week for their roles in the incident. Those officers, who are all Black, were arrested and charged with murder on Thursday.

"He was a human piñata for those police officers," a lawyer for the Nichols family said, via The New York Times. "Not only was it violent, it was savage."

On the video, Nichols was heard telling officers, "I'm just trying to go home." He later repeatedly screamed out for his mom, whose house was about 100 yards away from where officers started beating him.

The Grizzlies put out a statement on Friday afternoon before the video was released. Their account then went mostly dark and barely tweeted about the game.

“We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis’ own,” the team said in a statement. “We’re thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let’s support each other and respect how our fellow Memphians are coping. We have faith in this city and our power to heal.

“To the Nichols family and friends, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss.”

The Grizzlies and Timberwolves held a moment of silence at the Target Center before their game started on Friday night.

Jenkins opened his pregame media conference addressing Nichols’ death, too.

“Our city is struggling right now,” Jenkins said, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole. “Our city is coping with the loss of one of our own in Tyre Nichols. It’s devastating. There’s been a lot that’s transpired over the last couple of weeks and days learning about the incident involving Tyre Nichols and the police, and coming to find out that it’s another example of police brutality that’s taken the life of one of our own. It’s been hard to process. There’s a lot of emotion … Our team is sad and talked at length multiple times about what’s happened, what’s going to happen, and we’ve been on the road the whole time.

“It’s hard to grasp what our city is going through right now. We can’t wait to get back home to put our arms around everyone in Memphis as they struggle with the loss of life, the senseless loss of life.”

Friday's game was the final one of their five-game road trip. The Grizzlies will host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins
Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins was one of many across the league that spoke out about Tyre Nichols' death on Friday night. (Matt Krohn/USA Today)

Other teams, players speak out as Tyre Nichols video is released

Plenty of others in and around the league took to Twitter on Friday both before and after the footage was released, starting with the Timberwolves.

“The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx are deeply saddened by the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols,” the two teams said in a joint statement. “We extend our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies to Tyre’s family, friends, loved ones, the Memphis community and communities across the country during this difficult time.”

The NBA, other teams, both the NBPA and WNBA and even LeBron James joined in, too.

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