After a tumultuous year, which included deaths of basketball legends, a pandemic, and a suspended season — it was unfathomable to think things could get worse. Then yet another gut-wrenching tragedy occurred with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th.
The citizenry erupted with protests and riots from coast to coast. Cities, including Atlanta, were set ablaze by a people that could no longer go unheard. In a void of leadership at the federal level, a first-term mayor, homegrown rappers, and a young Hawks team found their voice amid the chaos.
To understand the problems that presently plague us, you must know the history of this ongoing battle. Luckily, the Atlanta Hawks are an organization that is well-versed on matters of racial injustice. The brain trust including Tony Ressler, Grant Hill, Steve Koonin, Dominique Wilkins, and several others, have worked to create a corporate culture reflective of Atlanta’s values.
In addition to a sturdy front office, the Hawks have the perfect head coach for such a situation. 44-year-old Lloyd Pierce has never stopped working on behalf of marginalized people. In his short time with the Hawks, Pierce has partnered with the Georgia Innocence Project and taught his young roster about Atlanta’s history. He is now leading the newly established racial injustice and reform committee for the National Basketball Coaches Association.
We could always count on the old guard to use their voice for good, but a pleasant surprise is seeing this young Hawks team using their platform for change. Every Hawks player who has a social media account has spoken on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement. The most visible being All-Star, Trae Young.
America has deep-rooted issues — ones that only people of color have had to face. If there is any silver lining to the death and destruction we are witnessing, it’s watching a new generation of activist-athletes find their voice. The Atlanta Hawks have always led on societal issues, and now it is apparent that the latest generation of players will carry on that legacy of leadership.