The Boston Celtics played the hometown Kings in Sacramento, California, on Sunday, but before the game they were on the same team.
Members of both NBA squads wore black T-shirts calling attention to the police shooting death of Stephon Clark on March 18, Sacramento’s CBS affiliate reported. “Accountability. We are one,” the front side of the shirts read, while the back was emblazoned with #StephonClark.”
Two Sacramento police officers shot 20 rounds at Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man and father of two, in his backyard after a foot chase with cops who were investigating break-ins in the neighborhood. Police officials have said the officers believed they saw Clark with a gun, but he was carrying only a cellphone.
The basketball players also came together to produce a public service video demanding law enforcement accountability. Some players then repeat Clark’s name.
Kings player development staffer Akachi Okugo came up with the shirt idea, but Kings guard Garrett Temple made sure there was follow-through, the CBS station said.
Police have “probably the toughest job in America and I applaud them for putting their lives on the line every night, every day, but with that comes responsibility,” Temple said, per NBA.com. “That’s the mantle that they carry and the burden that they bear.”
The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown told reporters, per USA Today, “As NBA players and people of influence, we have to continue to speak up about things and continue to serve as part of change.”
In a game at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center on Thursday, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé called for unity and expressed condolences to Clark’s family. The Kings played before a sparse crowd because protests outside the arena over Clark’s shooting forced a lockdown.