With pro sports teams all across the country releasing statements pertaining to protests over the death of Minneapolis, Minnesota man George Floyd, New York Knicks players are reportedly wondering why their team has not.
ESPN reporter Pablo Torre tweeted Monday night that players and employees are upset with the leadership of the franchise, while also releasing a memo that Madison Square Garden Company executive chairman Jim Dolan sent to MSG employees.
“We know that some of you have asked about whether our company is going to make a public statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. I want you to know, I realize the importance of this issue. Therefore, I want you to understand our internal position.
This is a turbulent time in our country. The coronavrius and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of a respectful and peaceful workplace. We always will.
As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters. What’s important is how we operate. Our companies are committed upholding our values, which include creating a respectful workplace for all, and that will never change. What we say to each other matters. How we treat each other matters. And that’s what will get us through this difficult time.
Protests in cities across the country have erupted since Floyd’s death, which happened in police custody.
In Context of the NBA
According to Torre’s tweets, the Knicks are one of two teams in the NBA to not release an official statement pertaining to Floyd’s death and ensuing protests.
While there are no public requests from Knicks players for the franchise to release a statement, Torre’s report comes shortly after NBA players around the country took to protests in their hometowns or in their current residence.
Dennis Smith Jr. Protests in Fayetteville
Dolan’s statement comes a pair of days after Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. returned to his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he protested alongside rapper J. Cole.
Smith has not released any statements pertaining to the protests on social media, and recently deleted his Instagram account.
Smith attended Trinity Christian in Fayetteville before heading to North Carolina State, where he played one season for the Wolfpack before declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft, where he was selected ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks.
Halfway through his second season in Dallas, he was traded to the Knicks in the blockbuster deal that saw Kristaps Porzingis swap NYC for Texas, and Smith, Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan leave the Mavs.
In 55 games in New York, Smith has averaged 10.1 points, 4.1 assists and a steal per game, starting a total of 21 games since arriving on January 31 of 2019.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.