Cheryl Reeve’s video meeting with her Lynx players wasn’t much about basketball this week, not with her team struggling to process George Floyd’s death and the subsequent clashes in Minneapolis streets.
On Thursday, Reeve described that Lynx team meeting during a Strib Live virtual town hall, also featuring Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey and Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino.
“I made a commitment to [Lynx players], on behalf of our organization, to provide opportunities to enact change,” Reeve said, referencing Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who died Monday after a white police officer kneeled on his neck in south Minneapolis.
“What we believe we need is legislation,” Reeve said. “Tweeting CEOs and writing letters is not going to create the change that is necessary. We don’t hold the power. … I talked to [Lynx players] about being committed to the idea that we were going to find the places that had power. People willing to help to actually bring legislation.”
A four-time WNBA championship coach, Reeve said “nothing had changed” since the Lynx made a stand against social injustice by wearing “Black Lives Matter” warmup shirts during the 2016 season. They were bringing attention to the shooting deaths by police of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.
Reeve said she and former Lynx standout and current assistant Rebekkah Brunson talked this week about the four off-duty Minneapolis police officers who walked off the job after the Lynx wore those warmup shirts and held a news conference denouncing racial profiling.
“At that time, we felt we wanted to use our voices to create a conversation, create dialogue and ultimately create a change,” Reeve said. “We sort of renewed our resolve [after Floyd’s death].”
Falvey said the Twins are making sure their players can connect with the right resources and mental health professionals as they reflect on Floyd’s death.
“What we’re dealing with right now with this environment in our local community is heartbreaking and on so many levels personal for me as I observe it,” Falvey said. “Knowing how much we care about our community. What Cheryl said, I can’t say it any better than that. We strive to all be leaders in our community: Players do, coaches do, staff do. We have a responsibility in the positions we’re in to try and do what we can when we can.”
Pitino told his Gophers players this week that “we’re here for you” despite their being distanced during the pandemic. He also wanted them to think about the best way to speak out about the Floyd situation.
“Whatever help you need, let us provide it for you,” Pitino said he messaged his players. “I constantly am talking to our guys about letting our actions do the talking. I understand they live in a world of social media, but whatever we say, is this actually going to bring about some type of change? Can we affect it? … What we’re going through right now is not good by any means. We all know Minnesota is special to us. What can we do to band together to fix this? Because it’s not right.”