The tragic death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody resonates with Maurice Cheeks.
Not because he knew Floyd personally, but because like many in the Black community, Cheeks has feared for his life at the hands of police.
According to Cheeks, he was on his bike heading home from the convenience store when a cop sped up behind him and eventually cut him off.
"It might have even seemed routine: A black guy getting pulled over by the cops," Cheeks said. "The officer jumped out of his car and yelled, "Get off your bike. Stand up and put your hands behind your back."
When Cheeks asked the cop why, he was told it was because "You look like a guy in a white T-shirt who just robbed a house." The officer handcuffed Cheeks and pushed him to the curb.
He was asked for his I.D. but had left it at home. That's when four or five other police officers arrived.
My heart was pounding, my wrists were aching from the handcuffs, and my natural instinct was to resist. I wanted to yell that I had done nothing wrong. I wanted to try and get my hands free. I wanted to set the record straight. I wanted to fight the cop who had spoken to me like I was nothing. But I knew that resisting would mean risking my life, so I did everything in my power to remain calm.
Cheeks was marched across the street so the presumable man whose house had been robbed could identify him. They drove him home, checked Cheeks' I.D., and then departed without an apology or explanation.
When the NBA Hall of Famer saw what happened to Floyd, memories of that awful encounter came roaring back.
"How easily that could have been me," Cheeks said. "What if I had given into my emotions? What if, instead of remaining calm, I had insisted the officer treat me like a human being?
Strange things happen when you go from being a guy who plays basketball to being a guy who plays basketball in the NBA. Chief among them is that you become, to some people, superhuman. As though you're able to achieve things others can't. But that day on my bike, I realized the extent to which all black people are in some ways expected to have superhuman control over their emotions - and if they don't, the results can be deadly.
Without an iPhone or video camera around to capture what happened to Floyd, who knows if Derek Chauvin and three other officers would have been held accountable for the horrific act. Who knows if protests for police brutality and systemic racism would engulf the nation?
What Cheeks does know is that change won't happen overnight, but police reform must happen.
"The protests around the country are working, but they won't build a new system overnight. As we continue to move forward, it's crucial to create mutual trust and understanding between police departments and the citizens those police departments are designed to protect.
"So that black people don't fear for their lives when stopped by an officer," he said. "So that kids grow up believing that they can become superheroes (not that they have to be one in order to survive). In America, living your life should not be a matter of life and death."
Maurice Cheeks worries, believes he could have been George Floyd originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest