The Memphis Grizzlies took the court at the Target Center shortly after officials released footage of Tyre Nichols on Friday night.
Nichols’ arrest and death hung over the entire game, and was the first thing coach Taylor Jenkins and the Grizzlies brought up after their 111-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I think the word that stands out about our group and our city is, 'together.' We talk about that all the time," Jenkins said after the game, via Bally Sports. "There's way harder things going on in the city versus what's going on with our basketball right now. I'm proud of our guys going out there. As I said before the game, we're playing for our city that's going through a lot right now. It's hard, but our guys went out there and competed … We can't wait to get back home. It's time to get back home to embrace our families, to embrace our community, play in front of our fans to represent our city with a lot of pride."
Coach Jenkins speaking to the media after tonight's game. pic.twitter.com/oKE0CR16Xo— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) January 28, 2023
Nichols was pulled over by police late on Jan. 7 in Memphis, and died three days later. He was 29.
Five Memphis police officers were then fired last week for their roles in the incident. Those officers, who are all Black, were arrested and charged with murder on Thursday. The city released footage of the incident on Friday night, which showed the officers kicking, punching and beating Nichols with a baton.
"He was a human piñata for those police officers," a lawyer for the Nichols family said, via The New York Times. "Not only was it violent, it was savage."
On the video, Nichols was heard telling officers, "I'm just trying to go home." He later repeatedly screamed out for his mom, whose house was about 100 yards away from where officers started beating him.
The Grizzlies put out a statement on Friday afternoon before the video was released. Their account then went mostly dark and barely tweeted about the game.
"We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis' own," the team said in a statement. "We're thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let's support each other and respect how our fellow Memphians are coping. We have faith in this city and our power to heal.
"To the Nichols family and friends, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss."
The Grizzlies and Timberwolves held a moment of silence at the Target Center in Minneapolis before their game started on Friday night.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves honor the life and memory of Tyre Nichols with a moment of silence. pic.twitter.com/cFQkj8UsXN— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 28, 2023
The Grizzlies and Timberwolves held a moment of silence before the game to honor Tyre Nichols 🙏— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 28, 2023
Nichols was killed by five Memphis police officers following a traffic stop on Jan. 7 pic.twitter.com/80n103sXLP
Jenkins opened his pregame media conference addressing Nichols’ death, too.
"Our city is struggling right now," Jenkins said, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Damichael Cole. "Our city is coping with the loss of one of our own in Tyre Nichols. It's devastating. There's been a lot that's transpired over the last couple of weeks and days learning about the incident involving Tyre Nichols and the police, and coming to find out that it's another example of police brutality that's taken the life of one of our own. It's been hard to process. There's a lot of emotion … Our team is sad and talked at length multiple times about what's happened, what's going to happen, and we've been on the road the whole time.
"It's hard to grasp what our city is going through right now. We can't wait to get back home to put our arms around everyone in Memphis as they struggle with the loss of life, the senseless loss of life."
Friday's game was the final one of their five-game road trip. The Grizzlies will host the Indiana Pacers next on Saturday.
Other teams, players speak out as Tyre Nichols video is released
Plenty of others in and around the league took to Twitter on Friday both before and after the footage was released, starting with the Timberwolves.
https://t.co/TUZwbJvvxu pic.twitter.com/7Qinxn0fGT— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 27, 2023
“The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx are deeply saddened by the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols,” the two teams said in a joint statement. “We extend our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies to Tyre’s family, friends, loved ones, the Memphis community and communities across the country during this difficult time.”
The NBA, other teams, both the NBPA and WNBA and even LeBron James joined in, too.
We stand with Memphis. #JusticeForTyre https://t.co/NlHL9doAJN— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 27, 2023
A statement from the NBPA. #JusticeForTyre— NBPA (@TheNBPA) January 28, 2023
🔗: https://t.co/FHZfUh2u9A pic.twitter.com/lilsGNxHqP
Statement, via inbox — The WNBPA says, "we stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Tyre Nichols."— Ben Pickman (@benpickman) January 27, 2023
"We are outraged. The police killing of Tyre Nichols marks the continuation of horrific police brutality against yet another Black man."
Full comments ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/swuuyex8PT
Change is needed at all levels and we all need to do our part. We can’t lose our humanity as a society.— Chris Paul (@CP3) January 28, 2023
To the Nichols’ family and Memphis community, my heart is with you tonight.