Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego opened up his pregame media availability on Wednesday with strong words as riots in Washington D.C. earlier in the day turned violent as protesters invaded the Capitol building.
“It feels a little odd to play a game tonight, to be honest,” Borrego said. “The pain, the hurt in our country right now, it’s real. I have yet to be around our players as a whole, as a group. We will huddle up here in a bit and talk and let them share their feelings and thoughts. It’s disheartening. It’s disappointing. It’s embarrassing for our country to be at this point. It’s not the country I want my kids to inherit and it’s extremely sad.
“It’s hard not to be around my kids and my family at this time. But we have a job to do tonight and we’ll do that. But extremely disappointed and disheartened tonight.”
The Hornets and Hawks are slated to take the court at 7:30 p.m. but, like most Americans, minds were elsewhere on the day. The violence on Tuesday sparked up after a rally held by President Donald Trump in which he continued to push back on election results. Moments after his speech, crowds formed in front of the Capitol Building and eventually led to rioters breaking in and forcing House and Senate members to evacuate.
The violence claimed the life of one protester on the day as of the time of print.
Borrego, his staff and the team had not yet gathered together after the day’s events as he spoke to the media. The team would gather pregame and have an open discussion, he said, where the team could share their thoughts and feelings on a situation bigger than basketball.
“Everybody deals with this differently and it’s hard to judge every person’s heart and mind in a situation like this,” Borrego said. “I’m just going to navigate as we go, I don’t know how every person on our staff, team, players feel at this moment. But this is a very difficult time for all of us to go out there and play a game. Now, we love this game. We love this sport and I believe our guys will get out there and compete and do their best at this time because I trust them.”
“It’s been a difficult time is what I can say,” he added said. “The last couple of hours have been very, very difficult. And I think about my family. This is a very difficult time for our country. It’s a very sad time for our country. We got a job to do tonight and we’ll do it you know but there this is a challenge this evening. I know our guys will be professional. They’ll get out there, they’ll compete, they’ll do their best. But I just want them to know that we’re here for them. They have an open platform to talk, to vent, to share. That’s who we are. That’s what we want to be about.
“Life is bigger than the game of basketball. There’s a bigger picture here and no bigger time, no bigger moment than today. And so, we carry on, we’ll fight tonight and we’ll compete.”