The Grizzlies were in court in Minnesota just hours after the video of the fatal beating of Tyree Nichols by Memphis police was released.
Five Memphis police officers have been fired and charged with murder in the death of Nichols, a 29-year-old father. Dashcam footage shows a senseless beating following a traffic stop.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins commented on the tragedy before and after the game.
“Our team understands the city’s pain. The Nichols and Wells families are hurting right now,” Jenkins told Bally Sports before Friday night’s game in Minnesota. “The senseless loss of life for Tire Nichols has really hit us hard. It was hard not being home, being on the road. I wish I could reach out through this camera now to the family. A lot is going on.”
He spoke about the emotions he saw Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, speak.
“I watched the interview with the family and seeing Mrs. Wells speak with such strength, positivity and love was powerful. It brought up a lot of emotion,” Jenkins continued. “I cried.”
The Grizzlies lost 111-100. After the game, the players were not made available to the media, but Jenkins spoke to reporters.
“There are a lot more difficult things going on in town than what’s going on with our basketball right now,” the coach said. “I’m proud of our kids going out there. We play with a heavy heart, but we also play for our city, which is going through a lot at the moment.”
The Grizzlies released a statement on Nichols’ killing.
“We are saddened to be faced with a senseless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis’ own,” the group said. “Our thoughts are with Nicholls’ family and friends and we share the pain we feel throughout the community. So, let’s support each other and respect how fellow Memphians are doing. We have faith in this city and our power to heal.
“To the family and friends of Nichols, our deepest condolences and sympathies for your loss.”
The NBA also released a statement: “The images of Tire Nichols’ life needlessly cut are appalling. While there have been steps toward accountability in this case, the NBA family remains committed to working with supporters, policymakers and law enforcement to work toward solutions to the issues we continue to face.”