Professional sports leagues, teams and players react to Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction

“Guilty on all charges,” Sky guard Kahleah Copper tweeted. “This is so important.”

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The Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic observe the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin case prior to the game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic observe the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin case prior to the game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Sky delayed announcing their training-camp roster Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

Moments after Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter for kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for over nine minutes, the WNBA and its players shared their reactions.

“Guilty on all charges,” Sky guard Kahleah Copper tweeted. “This is so important.”

In 2020 the league announced the creation of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council, an effort to commit to advancing social justice. Its mission is to take action and drive conversation about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy and gun control.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced this year the league would add health equity to its list of societal issues being spotlighted throughout the 2021 season.

While there was a collective sense of relief expressed across the professional sports landscape, many added that this verdict wasn’t justice but accountability.

“I was going to make a celebratory tweet, but then I was hit with sadness because we are celebrating something that is clear as day,” four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka tweeted. “The fact that so many injustices occurred to make us hold our breath toward this outcome is really telling.”

LeBron James shared the word accountability in all caps on his Twitter page. Hawks guard Trae Young said there is way more work to do. Timberwolves center Karl Anthony Towns tweeted that he never thought he’d see justice and accountability.

Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson tweeted, “Love. Peace. Justice.” The Bears retweeted it.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson spoke about the verdict after the Sox’ 8-5 win over Cleveland Tuesday night.

“We all know the results, so it’s definitely a positive moving forward,” Anderson said. “And that’s pretty much all I can say about it. I was happy with the decision. Now we can keep moving, keep trying to find that positive lane.”

Players weren’t the only ones voicing their reactions. Leagues and teams expressed their support of the verdict.

“While the verdict represents a step toward justice, we are reminded that justice is too often not the outcome for people of color,” Engelbert said in a statement.

“Today’s verdict closes one chapter, but much more work lies ahead,” the NWSL’s statement said in part.

“In the wake of today’s verdict in Minnesota, the Players Association will continue its work as a resource and advocate for all of our members who have been affected by recent tragic events, including those who wish to express themselves publicly or privately on social justice issues,” MLB players association executive director Tony Clark’s statement said in part.

“George Floyd’s murder was a flashpoint for how we look at race and justice in our country,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a joint statement. “We are pleased that justice appears to have been served, but we also recognize that there is much work to be done.”

The Sky’s Twitter feed began Tuesday morning with a statement from general manager and coach James Wade sharing his thoughts on the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

“Adam was just a child,” Wade said in part.

It concluded with another statement after Chauvin was declared guilty. Both statements were separated by six hours.

“By no means is this a victory because a man lost his life to something that was senseless,” Wade said. “But it does show some correction in that his murderer has been held accountable, which should be commonplace.”

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