Minnesota Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell decided to turn the tables on reporters during a Zoom press call on Sunday and ask journalists what they thought about the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
It’s not often that athletes direct questions to reporters but the topic, which has been gripping the nation for days, was apparently something the virtual press room was willing to entertain.
The Timberwolves had beaten the San Antonio Spurs 96-88 and Russell, who had 27 points, was asked about what he thought about the insurrection by Jon Krawcynski of The Athletic. The player had tweeted about it on Jan. 7. But instead of a simple answer, Russell was curious about what the reporters thought.
“I mean, I’m not in any rush right now, I think it’s the perfect time to do this,” said Russell. “I’d like to get you guys’ opinion first. We obviously know what my opinion is...we don’t get to hear you guys’ opinion, so I’d love to hear y’all opinion and we can play tennis with that.”
Krawcynski noted the paradox between the response at the Capitol as compared to the response of law enforcement to Black Lives Matter demonstrations throughout the nation. “There was some hypocrisy there and to me, I mean I don’t know what you guys feel, but I’m trying to put myself in [your] shoes and it can only be heartbreaking to think what you guys are seeing after what you all experienced this summer.”
Dane Moore, of the Dane Moore NBA Podcast said it was “embarrassing as a white person” and that what happened “shined a bad light on a separation in our society based on race” and said he was embarrassed for the country. “I’m not an expert on the topic but that’s my main emotion.”
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The discussion went on for another ten minutes before Russell decided to express his point of view. His position essentially reflected that of many Black people in drawing contrasts between the racial optics of aggressive responses to demonstrators angry over rampant police violence and a cavalier response toward white domestic terrorists.
“We let that happen as a country, or a higher power, or whatever you want to say,” Russell said. “It brought eyes to the balance of the unfairness of what we’re living in this country. It just brought more eyes to it.
“I will say that, with all this going on,” he continued, “it’s triggered a lot of attention towards this topic in general. “It's allowing us to sit back and think about how we're going to respond to this as a nation, as an individual, as a teacher. Anything you do, your voice is going to matter. A lot of young kids nowadays, they probably won't see this and they probably won't understand what's going on, but it is a revolution.”
“It is a change. It is something that I feel that it can only go up from here,” said Russell.”
Last week, L.A. Lakers superstar LeBron James was among the strongest voices in professional sports to express his feelings on the rioting.
"We live in two Americas," he said during a post-game press conference. “And that was a prime example of that yesterday, and if you don't understand that or don't see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, then you really need to take a step back -- not even just one step, but maybe four or five, or even 10 steps backwards.”