NBA Together Roundtable

David Griffin, Alvin Gentry, Swin Cash appear on #NBATogether panel

Group discussed ongoing issues in America

Host Ernie Johnson noted that the initial plan for Monday’s #NBATogether show was to conduct a one-on-one interview with Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin, but Johnson and Griffin decided to audible. Griffin realized that the timing was not right to delve into his own philosophy and unique rise in the NBA from one-time intern to esteemed executive.

Instead, Griffin joined Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry, Swin Cash and Atlanta’s head coach, Lloyd Pierce, to discuss ongoing issues in America related to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests that have swept the country. The group delved into topics including a push for more accountability from police departments, the need to come together as a society amid rampant divisiveness, as well as how to drive change.

“Accountability has to be not only with how you’re policing, but accountability when things go wrong,” said Cash, the Pelicans' vice president of basketball operations/team development . “Black and brown communities are not saying we don’t want the police here. The police are supposed to do their job. But when you don’t do your job at any job – whether it’s your job, my job – there is an accountability. You’re going to get fired. You’re going to have to answer for something. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a solid accountability, and that goes to legislation, how we’re funding police and areas we can change.”

“This is a selected (negative) few,” Gentry said. “This is not the entire police force. We have to find a way to weed out the selected few. There has to be more accountability in general from the police force. We have to have those conversations. We have to have uncomfortable conversations and then figure out what is the next step from there. But it all starts with conversation.”

Early in the 47-minute roundtable, Johnson pointed out that part of the lack of understanding can come from citizens often refusing to listen to the other side of the political spectrum, including in media sources. Johnson used the example of Fox and CNN having completely different audiences. Griffin noted that even if one watches both networks, it can difficult for viewers to find the truth in the middle.

“Even CNN and Fox, because they are so polarized, even if you watched the other (network), you still never find the middle,” Griffin said. “We never find common ground. Everything is so polarized now, that we are afraid to disagree with one another in any form.”

Discussion turned to the negative impact of recent looting and rioting that took place after what was initially peaceful protesting. The panel noted that the incidents are harmful to the conversation about Floyd staying on course.

“By even a few people looting and doing the violent things they’re doing, it diminishes the power of the protest, because you’re giving the weapon to the person who wants to vilify the very people and the very things that people are protesting for,” Griffin said. “One of our action steps is we cannot feed into that. We can’t give people the arsenal to use against us. The protest has to remain as peaceful as possible, because we know what the power structure will do to demean what’s being protested for.”

“I think that’s the whole purpose of what’s going on, to disrupt from what this should be about,” Gentry said of rioting and looting. “This should be about him, George Floyd. You have people who are intentionally hijacking what is going on, which should be a peaceful situation. People are there for the sole purpose to disrupt what (was intended to) be organized and calm. We have to take the focus off of that and get the focus back on what we’re protesting for.”

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