Doc Rivers Reveals Why He Feels Strongly About Police Reform

Black Lives Matter

Getty The NBA has thrown support behind the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The sports world commemorated May 25 with touching tributes and actionable words. The date marked the one-year anniversary of the senseless killing of George Floyd.

The Minnesota police officer who murdered Floyd was convicted in May, but legislation bearing his name is waiting to be passed to create national standards for policing. On Tuesday, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers showed up to his media availability wearing a T-shirt reading “Call Your Senators” to rally support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Rivers has been pushing for equality and police reform, in tandem with the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition. The George Floyd bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in March with bipartisan support but has so far stalled on the U.S. Senate floor.

“It’s so strange that we call it an anniversary. That sounds like something that you should celebrate,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if we should be celebrating the anniversary of the George Floyd incident. And so this is about the George Floyd bill. And before I say something about it, this is not political. The George Floyd bill, this has nothing to do with if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”

It’s not just another cause for the 59-year-old NBA lifer. Rivers is the proud son of a police officer who grew up respecting that shiny badge and blue uniform. His dad, Grady Rivers, rose to the rank of lieutenant while serving on the force in Maywood (Illinois) for 30 years. It’s personal for him.

“I am the son of a police officer. I’m pro-police,” Rivers said. “The fact that it takes six months to be a police officer, and it takes about a year and a half to get your barber’s license tells you that we need more training. There are bad cops out there, so it’s to protect us from them. It’s a fair bill. It’s a solid bill. And I’m just hoping that every single person will call your senator.”

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Sixers Illuminate Wells Fargo Center Gold

The City of Philadelphia illuminated Boathouse Row in gold to honor Floyd’s memory and held a virtual prayer vigil on Tuesday. The Sixers lit up Wells Fargo Center in gold, with Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia Eagles) and Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies) following suit. The gestures were meant to reflect on the “tremendous legacy” left behind by Floyd.

“George Floyd should be alive with his family today and it’s incumbent on all of us to keep his memory alive,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said, via CBS3. “His death represented the countless Black Americans tragically killed by police, and it catalyzed a long-overdue reckoning about systemic racism in this country.”

Everyone Should Speak Out, Not Only Athletes

One other major point Rivers wanted to emphasize regarding the Floyd bill was this isn’t just an athlete issue. He’ll continue to use his loud celebrity platform to raise awareness, but everyone across the country needs to speak out on social injustice and racial equality.

“It’s not an athlete’s job to speak out, it’s no one’s job to speak out,” Rivers said. “It’s our responsibility if we want to make it better. You should speak out. Everyone. We are all part of one country and we all have to play our part.”

Rivers knows why some people get heard more than others, but that’s not a reason to sit on the sideline. Get involved. Call your senators.

“I think the one reason that athletes and entertainers and politicians speak out is because they have the mic in front of them,” Rivers said. “That’s the real reason. So they have the ability to be heard. But everyone should. Everyone who wants to be heard should get involved.”

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