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The Charlotte Hornets want to help turn city around

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The city of Charlotte, North Carolina has been rocked recently by racial protests after the death of Keith Scott last week. The protests threatened the Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings game over the weekend that was ultimately played without issue.

With the Panthers able to make their game happen, the Charlotte Hornets now would like to help as well and help turn the city around.

“I’m sure you all saw the statement from our owner (Michael Jordan), who basically asked all of us to find ways to be a part of the solution,” Head Coach Steve Clifford said. “There was a guy who played at Harvard a long time ago named Arne Duncan, and he was in president [Barack] Obama’s first cabinet. There was a problem, and he said, ‘Use every crisis as an opportunity.’ I think that, hopefully, that’s what we’ll do. We’ve had conversations internally with our players on ways that we can help. I know that they want to do that. And like anything, there are many ways that I think professional athletes can make a positive impact, and reach out and do those things. That’s our plan going forward — follow our owner’s lead and try to help our community in a positive way.”

Going back to what Clifford led off with, Michael Jordan made the following statement through the team:

“It is more important than ever that we restore calm and come together, as a community, in peaceful demonstration and conversation and in constructive and non-violent ways,” Jordan said in the statement. “As part of the fabric of Charlotte, the Hornets organization is committed to working with civic leaders, our elected leaders and law enforcement to foster more trust, transparency and understanding so we can heal and grow together as a community.”

Jordan’s comments were strong and straightforward and honest. After the Hornets lost next year’s NBA All-Star Game due to the “bathroom law,” it was important for Jordan to take a stand on this issue.

Once again, the protests started after Keith Scott, 43, was killed by an African American Charlotte police officer in an apartment complex parking lot on Tuesday, September 20th. Every since, there have been both peaceful and violent protests throughout the city.

The Hornets themselves have been impacted by the protests as well. Recently, people broke into a Hornets fan store and stole memorabilia and merchandise, causing the store to be closed until further notice.

“It’s always a tough situation on both ends. I can’t really speak for the police officers,” Hornets’ point guard Kemba Walker said. “I don’t know what they’re feeling at the time. I don’t know what they’re going through. But it’s hard. It’s hard to watch. It’s really hard to watch. I never want to see anyone being killed for no reason. So it’s pretty disturbing and pretty hard to watch.”

Overall, it’s a tough situation for the league and the team to deal with. Walker has said he and the rest of his teammates believe bringing the city back together is partially their responsibility. Just like the Panthers tried to do over the weekend in their game against the Vikings.

“You know what? We’re working on that as an organization, the NBA, just as a league,” Walker said. “The NBPA, [executive director] Michele [Roberts], she does a great job with our league and helping us get out in the community. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re gonna get out there in the community and do what we can do to help. Right now, I don’t know how. But it’s in the works. It’s gonna happen.

Sports are great because they help bring people together in times of tragedy. Look at what the Mets and Yankees did for New York after 9/11. Or a more recent example, look at how Miami came together on Monday night after the tragic passing of Jose Fernandez.

Each of these situations is extremely different, but in the end one thing is the same: sports have the power to heal. They have the power to bring people together when necessary. That’s what the Hornets are trying to do and that’s what they feel they need to do.

[ESPN]

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