Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that black athletes are recognized for their accomplishments when the lights shine the brightest -- when they're in uniform, but when they're out of the spotlight, he says it's a different story.
“It’s the same with all black athletes,” Rivers told the Los Angeles Times. “When they’re wearing the uniform, they’re seen as an athlete. When they take it off, it’s a problem.
“If I do something good, then I am American, but if I do something bad then I am a Negro," he explained to the newspaper.
Rivers believes this also applies to how black athletes are treated when they go to stores.
“You always hear about a black athlete in a store and he can’t get service, but then the minute he’s recognized, all the employees want to give him service,” Rivers said. “When the uniform comes off, he’s not as powerful.”
Rivers said this isn’t a recent trend in the United States in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died in police custody May 25 after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes in a moment caught on cellphone video. Rivers said this is something that has happened before camera phones that could capture video were created.
“What is happening is not new, it’s been going on for a long time, people have been speaking about these things and only a few people have heard it,” Rivers said. “But I tell people, you’ve got to keep speaking the truth, it’s worth it. Just because you’re taking the right stand doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but it’s worth it.”