By KARMA ALLEN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — NBA players are using their media time to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a young Black medical worker who was fatally shot by plainclothes officers in her Louisville, Kentucky home in March.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kyle Kuzma spoke about the 26-year-old’s death for about six minutes Wednesday night as reporters gathered in Orlando, Florida, to discuss the league’s attempts to restart the season.
Kuzma took to Twitter after the press conference, pleading with the media to ask more questions about social justice in light of the ongoing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
“Media & players: We work hand n hand. We have platforms but help us out! Yes we know your job is to ask us about basketball questions,” he tweeted. “But if you guys believe in equality for all, let’s ask a few social injustice questions here n there. We’re all in this together.”
Similarly, Kuzma’s teammate, Lakers guard Alex Caruso, tried his best to steer questions away from his sister, Megan, who got married last weekend. Instead, Caruso said he wanted to talk more about Taylor.
“Outside of my sister’s wedding questions, anything today that you ask of basketball, I’m just going to respond with, ‘We need justice for Breonna Taylor,"” Caruso told reporters. “That’s going to be my response to the rest of the questions if they’re basketball-related and not pertaining to me and my sister’s wedding.”
Taylor’s death on March 13 sent shockwaves around the country. Louisville police officers had executed a no-knock search warrant and used a battering ram to forcefully enter the young woman’s apartment.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, got out of bed around midnight when they heard a commotion outside. After a short exchange with police, Walker fired his gun in self-defense, saying he thought his home was being broken into, according to police.
The plainclothes officers returned gunfire, firing several shots and fatally hitting Taylor, police said.
It was later revealed that the police had been looking for two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house located near Taylor’s home. Police obtained a no-knock warrant to search Taylor’s apartment because they had reason to believe that the men had used her apartment to receive packages.
One of the officers, Brett Hankison, was fired in June amid intense pressure from the public. Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the other officers involved, were placed on administrative reassignment, but civil rights activists say all three men should be charged.
Activists, athletes and some of Hollywood’s brightest stars have called on their fans to demand justice for Taylor. Other artists have showed support by promoting the #SayHerName campaign on social media.
Members of the NBA, which restarted its season on Wednesday after a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, have been some of Taylor’s most outspoken proponents.
“[Shoulders] felt great, but I think most importantly, I take this time to give my condolences to the family of the Taylors, Breonna Taylor, rest in peace, George Floyd, rest in peace,” LA Clippers guard Paul George told reporters after the game on Wednesday. “There are so many others out there that have been brutally murdered by the hands of police. That is all I got — that is my message for everyone and that will continue to be my answer.”
George said he plans to encourage fellow players and others with large platforms to keep speaking out against police brutality in the wake of Taylor’s death.
“I mean, her murderers are still free, so nothing is done yet. And hope to continue, again, keep this fight going and use our platform to stand up for those that can’t stand anymore,” he told reporters. “I think that is what we are here for, to continue to keep that in the back of people’s minds.”
Other NBA players, including Lakers star LeBron James, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis have also spoken out about the ongoing fight for racial justice.
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