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NBA Coaches Share Martin Luther King Memories

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A generation remembers the civil rights leader.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Marc J Spears of The Undefeated posted a series of personal reflections from NBA coaches, chronicling their memories of Martin Luther King on the day we honor him. The league features multiple games in succession on this holiday. Blazer’s Edge will have an open thread in which you can talk about them. It seemed appropriate to cite the memories of the man who inspired the holiday here.

From Spears’ article, Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, talking about the news of King’s assassination:

I remember it being the first time I saw my father cry. My dad was a police officer in Chicago. My dad did not cry. I never saw him show emotion. I remember going to my grandmother’s house. And I walked in the house and my grandmother was crying and my grandfather was crying and, more importantly, my dad was crying. I had never heard of Martin Luther King. I was in the second grade. I didn’t know nothing. Everyone was at home watching a little tiny TV, crying, mad and angry. That led me to want to know who this man was.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovic on playing NBA games across the holiday:

It’s one of the very few things we do to honor the contributions of black people in our country... It’s not just important. It’s a mandatory and important thing to do.

Rivers on the progress made in the 50 years since King’s death:

We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go. I just hate when people say, ‘How much more?’ Well, until it’s equal. That’s how much more. I always laugh. When you go back and look at movies in the ’60s, they say, ‘Well, this is the ’60s … this is the ’70s … this is the ’80s.’ This stuff isn’t going to happen in the ’90s. But it keeps going, and it’s less and less, but it’s still a lot.

Spears has many more quotes than we’ve listed here. Check out the article to hear them.