Tag Archives: Blake

‘An embarrassing and shameful day’: NBA reacts to Capitol protests, Blake decision

With words and actions, several NBA teams showed dismay Wednesday, hours after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump was able to storm the U.S. Capitol — and in response to a decision by a Wisconsin prosecutor not to charge a police officer who shot a Black man last year.

In Miami, the Heat and Boston Celtics released a joint statement saying they were playing “with a heavy heart” in a game where most players and coaches knelt for the national anthem. In Milwaukee, the Bucks and Detroit Pistons both took turnovers on their first possessions — intentionally, with all 10 players on the court kneeling.

Earlier in the day at the Capitol, a mob delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election and paving the way for president-elect Joe Biden to be sworn in later this month.

The Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns linked arms in a centre-court circle for the national anthems ahead of Wednesday night’s game.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse called the events of the past two days: “Disturbing, disgusting, incredulous, sad.

“This just seems to be not-stop, and it seems to not improve.”

Nurse said veteran guard Kyle Lowry met with Suns guard Chris Paul before tip-off to discuss possible actions. He said his team would take the floor with conflicted feelings.

“I’m personally conflicted, and then I always really try to feel where I should fit in, in this picture of things,” the coach said. “Certainly, I talked to the leaders of our team. Always want to give them a platform and open line of communication and then try to evaluate from there what is going on. I support them either way, and if they decide they’re gonna play, then I gotta decide I’m gonna coach ’em to the best of my ability.”

WATCH | Raptors, Suns join in display of NBA-wide solidarity:

Before the Toronto Raptors faced the Suns in Phoenix, the 2 teams linked arms in a show of solidarity in response to the the violent pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol and the continuing racial injustice that goes on in the country. 0:33

“It’s an embarrassing and shameful day in our country,” said New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy.

In San Francisco, the Golden State Warriors donned “Black Lives Matter” shirts and knelt for the anthem, as did their opponents, the Los Angeles Clippers.

Wednesday’s events came one day after the decision was announced to not to bring charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., last year. Blake’s shooting was one of the many issues players focused on last season in the NBA restart bubble, where the issues of racial injustice and police brutality were a constant focus.

The joint Heat-Celtics statement said, in part: “2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on.”

The Celtics discussed the Blake decision earlier in the day, before the events from the Capitol unfolded. The Celtics then met again as a team after arriving at the arena in Miami, where many televisions in the locker room areas — normally on sports channels — were on the news.


“They’ve operated in a win-at-all-costs attitude,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Trump’s administration. “I don’t know, our sports world is a lot less important, obviously. But I’ve always thought if you operated with a win-at-all-costs attitude, it’s going to be a pretty unfulfilling ending. And in this situation, a disgraceful ending. So, I’m looking forward to two weeks from now, as I know a lot of other people are, too.”

Biden will be inaugurated two weeks from Wednesday, on Jan. 20.

The NBA had a rule for decades that players and coaches must stand for the national anthem. That rule was relaxed last year when the season resumed at the bubble inside Walt Disney World.

The Bucks won the opening tip of their game, and instead of running a play two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo simply held the ball as all players knelt. That resulted in a turnover, as did the ensuing Detroit possession when Blake Griffin held the ball and players took a knee again. The Bucks said after the game they held the ball for 7 seconds to reflect the seven times Blake was shot.

“We want to do things to help make change, be on the right side of the fight, continue to fight, not be in any way, shape or form distracted or slowed or moved in the wrong direction,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We need to keep moving forward in all ways, shapes and forms.”


Meanwhile, a men’s college basketball game scheduled to be played in Washington on Wednesday night was postponed after a city curfew was imposed in response to the mob’s actions at the Capitol. The Atlantic 10 Conference game between George Washington and UMass will be rescheduled by the league.

Another Washington-based team, Georgetown, took a knee for the anthem before facing Butler in Indianapolis. “I’m saddened,” Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing said in response to the day’s events.

There were 11 games on Wednesday’s NBA schedule.

“It feels a little odd to play a game tonight, to be honest,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said before his club played in Atlanta.

Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, spoke of the stark difference between rallies across the U.S. last summer that often included violent skirmishes between protesters and police and what he watched at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“The symbolism of storming the Capitol without force done to them, if you’re a Black American, it definitely touches you in a different way,” Rivers said. “This is not a Black thing. This is an American thing.”

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Jets’ Blake Wheeler steps away from domestic chaos to play in Stanley Cup qualifiers

Like many parents, Blake Wheeler and his wife Sam stickhandled homeschooling, cooking, and cleaning — not to mention refereeing disputes between their three kids —through the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the Winnipeg Jets captain is about to step away from the domestic chaos to skate in the National Hockey League Stanley Cup qualifiers in Edmonton.

“We were in south Florida, in the epicentre of everything going on right now,” Wheeler told reporters via Zoom on the opening day of training camp. “It’s definitely been a nerve-wracking and anxious few months. “When you think about everything going on in the world – and then you think about going back and playing a game – it’s sometimes hard to put that in perspective.”

Wheeler and the Jets practice in Winnipeg one last time Sunday morning and then embark for the Alberta capital for an undetermined time period. The longer they stay, the deeper their run in the chase for a title. All the uncertainty makes it hard for Wheeler to say goodbye to Sam and the kids.

“It’s been very challenging,” he said. “So the thought of leaving all that on Sam’s plate is probably something I haven’t come to terms with yet.”

If it’s any consolation, Wheeler and the Jets won’t have much spare time to ruminate. First, they clash with the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night in their first and only exhibition game. Then they open the qualifying round next Saturday in the first of a best-of-five against the Calgary Flames.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo previews Jets-Flames:

In part 5 of 10, Rob Pizzo breaks down the only all-Canadian matchup in the qualification round.  1:11

“The entire time during the pause, after one day I was ready to play hockey again,” said Jets centre Mark Scheifele, who amassed 29 goals and 73 points in 71 games this season. “There was obviously a lot to deal with, but now that we’re back to hockey, that’s the excitement — playing the game we love every single day.

“No matter what it is, we’re playing hockey and we get to compete for the Stanley Cup. That’s the ultimate dream.”

The Jets (37-28-6) enter the qualifiers as a team that spent most of the 2019/20 campaign on the playoff bubble. But look closely, and there’s reason for optimism among the local fanbase.

Built for the post-season

In many ways, the Jets are built for the post-season with their size and speed up front. They have a Vezina Trophy finalist in goalie Connor Hellebuyck. And their core players have valuable playoff experience.

“You don’t have to explain to your players what playoffs look like,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “Which, you go back two years, we had to. We didn’t really have the guys that have ever played a playoff game, let alone had a long run. “But now we have consecutive years where our drivers are familiar with how the playoffs work.”

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo previews Western round-robin:

In part 2 of 10, Rob Pizzo examines whether the defending champion Blues will come out of the round-robin with the #1 seed.  1:16

The Jets reached the Western Conference Final in 2018. Amid high expectations, they lost their opening-round series last year in six to the St. Louis Blues, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. Scheifele, for one, can’t wait for another opportunity.”

‘Everything on the line’

It’s the adrenaline,” he said. “When you get into a tight game and it’s the third period, it’s the guys that are calm, cool, and collected, but they have that adrenaline buried deep inside them that is ready to come out. “That’s what I’m looking forward to. A real-game situation with everything on the line and that adrenaline starts pumping. That’s what I’m craving the most.”

At age 33, Wheeler realizes his chances of hoisting the Stanley Cup are likely numbered. With that in the mind, he’s following his wife’s advice as he prepares for takeoff to Edmonton.

“When we’ve talked about it, basically what we came down to is she says, ‘Don’t just leave and play just three games. That would be a waste of time. At least give me something to entertain me,” he said. “So, that’s kind of where we’ve left it for now. “Hopefully we can go on a little bit of a run and give everyone back home something to cheer about.”

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Gwen Stefani Wishes ‘Best Friend’ Blake Shelton Happy Birthday

Gwen Stefani Wishes ‘Best Friend’ Blake Shelton Happy Birthday | Entertainment Tonight

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Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler urges change to improve human rights in U.S.

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler says he never envisioned his hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul would serve as the spark for U.S.-wide protests against police killings of African-Americans.

During a 40-minute conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Wheeler urged his fellow citizens to vote for candidates who will improve human rights in the U.S. and said the violence sweeping America obscures the positive conversations taking place across the country about the need for change.

“For the most part, I’d say I’m proud of my hometown for the response and for the people standing up and not tolerating this anymore,” Wheeler said, speaking via Zoom from south Florida, where he is living with his family and training in preparation for the possible resumption of National Hockey League play.

“If you watch the news and you see, you know, tons of peaceful protests and people clearly upset, clearly sick and tired of the same conversation, but doing it in a way that is promoting real change.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not the case with everyone. Unfortunately, there are people that are taking advantage of those situations and doing some destruction to people who have worked a long time to establish small businesses — and so that’s been really heartbreaking.”

Wheeler addressed reporters three days after he issued a statement decrying the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“Growing up outside Minneapolis, I always felt sheltered from racism. That’s because I was,” Wheeler wrote in an image posted to Twitter on Saturday night.

“Most people I grew up with looked like me. I never had to be scared when I stopped at a traffic light or saw the police in public. My kids will never know that fear either.

“I’m heartbroken that we still treat people this way. We need to stand with the black community and fundamentally change how the leadership in this country has dealt with racism. I’m sorry it has taken this long, but I’m hopeful that we can change this NOW.”


On Tuesday, Wheeler expressed regret he didn’t speak out sooner — and suggested other white athletes should do the same.

“We have to be as involved in this as black athletes. It can’t just be their fight,” he said, referring to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling gesture during the singing of the U.S. national anthem in 2016.

“I wanna be real clear here: I look in the mirror about this before I look out at everyone else. I wish that I was more involved sooner than I was. I wish that it didn’t take me this long to to get behind it in a meaningful way.”

“But I guess what you can do is try to be better going forward. That’s kind of been my position is I want to be a part of the change going forward.”

Wheeler did in fact speak out in 2016. He chastised U.S. president Donald Trump for disrespecting Kaepernick’s right to express himself.

On Tuesday, Wheeler suggested Trump is exacerbating violence in the U.S. right now.

“What happened last night in Washington with the president was unfortunate and kind of just pours gas on the fire a little bit,” he said, referring to Trump’s use of police to forcibly remove protestors near a church in order to stage a photo op with a bible.

“I don’t think anyone’s condoning rioting and looting and destroying businesses and that behavior. On the flip side of that, the whole issue that started this, is police violence.”

Tough to explain to a 7 year old

Wheeler said it was hard for him to explain the police killing to his children.

“They watched George Floyd die on TV. So that’s that’s been really challenging,” he said, adding it was particularly difficult to convey to his seven year old.

“He’s asking why won’t he get off his neck? And to have to explain that to him, to try to explain to him that, you know, to a seven year old, that the police, that he feels are out there to protect us and look out for us, that that’s not always the case,” he said. “That’s a hard conversation to have.”

Wheeler said it was difficult for him to speak out because the culture of hockey does not condone individualism. 

Athletes, he said, have a platform they must use to promote positive change.

“I strongly feel that this has nothing to do with politics,” he said.

“You can vote for whoever you want. You can have your opinions about policy and Republicans, Democrats, all that. But I mean, these are human rights, fundamentally. 

“If you’re American, you need to be very educated and vote, not just for the national election, not just for the president, but in your local votes, you know, state, city, county, all these ways that we can try to change the system and put the right people in power so that these things aren’t happening any more.”

Wheeler was not the only Winnipeg NHLer speaking out. Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews posted a statement on Instagram stating the need to acknowledge both the African-American struggle and the human rights conditions for Indigenous people in Canada.

“I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears,” Toews said.

“It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t?”

After Wheeler spoke to media, the Winnipeg Jets issued a statement denouncing racism.

Wheeler also spoke about the potential for the NHL’s return and the difficulties it may cause players who are parents. He also called those concerns insignificant at the moment.

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Blake Wheeler says ‘America is not OK’ amid protests following George Floyd’s death

Winnipeg Jets forward and Minnesota native Blake Wheeler joined a growing list of athletes speaking out following the death of George Floyd. 

Wheeler took to Twitter Saturday night amid another day of tense protests, which began in Minneapolis following Monday’s death of Floyd after a police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s death has also resulted in protests across the United States. with police cars set ablaze and reports of injuries mounting on all sides as the country lurched toward another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns.


“I’ve wanted to say something for a while, but it’s been really difficult knowing what to say. My hometown is burning. Businesses where I grew up are being boarded up. America is not OK,” Wheeler wrote.

“Growing up outside Minneapolis, I always felt sheltered from racism. That’s because I was,” he continued. “Most people I grew up with looked like me. I never had to be scared when I stopped at a traffic light or saw the police in public. My kids will never know that fear either.

“I’m heartbroken that we still treat people this way. We need to stand with the black community and fundamentally change how the leadership in this country has dealt with racism. I’m sorry it has taken this long, but I’m hopeful that we can change this NOW. George Floyd’s life mattered. Ahmaud Arbery’s life mattered. So did every other life that has been lost by this senseless violence and racism,” Wheeler concluded.

WATCH | Police fire tear gas on protesters:

CBC senior correspondent Susan Ormiston reports from Minneapolis, where police fire tear gas on protesters 5:01

Wheeler was not the only NHL player to speak up about Floyd’s death. San Jose Sharks forwards Evander Kane and Logan Couture also took to Twitter to share their thoughts.



Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests have prompted many sports figures — including athletes, coaches and league officials — to speak out in recent days.

“As an organization and a community, we come from all over the world. We are diverse. We speak different languages. But our shared humanity unites us,” the Toronto Raptors said in a released statement Saturday night.

“When we see racism and violence committed against someone because of the colour of their skin, we should, and do, feel outrage. We cannot accept this. While we grieve for those we have lost, we know grieving is not enough. We must honour their memory by acknowledging these ills exist, confronting them, and coming together to create a better society. It is far past time.

Former Raptors coach Dwane Casey, now with the Detroit Pistons, also released a statement.

“Fifty-four years ago, I was an 8-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated,” Casey said. “I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed. At that time, there were no cellphones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation.

“But I can remember exactly how I felt as an 8-year-old child. I felt helpless. I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood. As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings — helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry. I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.

“Fifty-four years later, my son is now 8 years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed? How often is he judged on sight? Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood? Does he feel helpless? Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey? What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his 8-year-old world better than mine was? We all have to be and do better.”

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