Utah Jazz, NBA, and WNBA react to verdict in Derek Chauvin murder trial with relief and resolve

Chauvin was found guilty of all charges Tuesday, including second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter

Demonstrators gather during a rally outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the murder trial against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd advances to jury deliberations, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Tuesday afternoon’s guilty verdict in the murder trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin brought significant reaction from the world of the NBA and the Utah Jazz.

Both entities, and the entire sports world, became significantly involved in social justice causes in reaction to the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans last summer. When Chauvin’s guilty verdict was read, players, executives, and organizations alike released statements on the matter.

The Jazz, for example, released a statement saying “Our hearts are with the George Floyd family today. His murder — among too many example of senseless killings, systematic racism, and injustice — has only heightened the urgency to peacefully and emphatically work towards creating sustainable and meaningful change. The work ahead of us remains clear, our resolve is strong, and our actions must be even stronger.”

Jazz owner and Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith sent out his own statement that said, “My thoughts are with George Floyd’s family following his tragic murder and today’s verdict. We must all actively work toward meaningful, systemic change.”

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tweeted that “God is good all the time.....,” while teammate Jordan Clarkson more simply tweeted three clapping emojis. Rudy Gobert tweeted, “Let’s hope that one day justice for all will feel normal and not like a celebration” with a prayer emoji.

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA released a joint statement on the ruling. “George Floyd’s murder was a flash point for how we look at race and justice in our country, and we are pleased that justice appears to have been served. But we also recognize that there is much work to be done and the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association, together with our newly-formed Social Justice Coalition, will redouble our efforts to advocate for meaningful change in the areas of criminal justice and policing.”

Michelle Roberts, executive director of the NBPA, suggested that the next steps should include passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. That bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a party-line vote, and now is in the Senate’s hands.

Several of the NBA and NBPA’s stars reacted as well. Former Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford wrapped up the feeling of anxiety many of the NBA’s athletes felt as they awaited the verdict.

“But the fact we all saw what we saw last year, and STILL were nervous about if he would be held accountable, shows how far we have to go...,” he said.

Minnesota star center Karl-Anthony Towns said, “Justice and Accountability! Things I never thought I would see. There’s much more work to do, but this is an amazing start working toward the reform this country NEEDS!”

And the WNBPA released a strong, poignant statement, describing what happened to Floyd and its impact on his daughter, Gianna.

“This verdict may begin to tell us, tell the world that the death of a Black person in America will not be overlooked. That the growing epidemic of police violence against Black people must end, will end, today. It is up to us, the people of good conscience, to honor George Floyd, his daughter Gianna, and his family by continuing out push for comprehensive legislation to hold police accountable.”

“Yes, Gianna Floyd, your dad has changed the world,” they concluded.

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