When the Nets entered another one of the anonymous halls around Walt Disney World to practice Saturday, coach Jacque Vaughn had something out of the ordinary to show them.
John Lewis, the civil rights hero and long-time congressman, had died and Vaughn had a video to share: Lewis’ recollection of his 1963 speech to the historic National March on Washington. Martin Luther King, with whom Lewis had worked, later delivered the iconic “I have a dream.” speech to same audience, hundreds of thousands at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, millions around the world...
John Lewis meant a great deal to Jacque Vaughn. Coach educated the team today about the life and legacy of the civil rights icon we lost last night. pic.twitter.com/aMbxRj0Nvh— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 18, 2020
At the conclusion of the video, Vaughn simply asked some of his younger players how old they are, noting that Lewis, who had also helped organized the march, was 23.
“And you get to play basketball. C’mon,” he concluded. It was as if to say that without this man who knows what you —or I— would be doing today, that this man’s unselfish work including multiple beatings, a fractured skull and 40 arrests laid the first stones on the still unfinished road to equality.
Later, Vaughn told reporters on the Nets daily Zoom call why he thought it was important, at this time and place, to honor Lewis even if in a small way, on a basketball court reserved for a game.
“We lost an icon,” Vaughn told the writers. “I’m speaking for the organization, extremely pleased we were able to just enlighten and educate our guys on a human being who dedicated a majority of his life for others and for the social well-being of all humans.
“For our group to take a look and realize that at 23 years old he was in front of hundreds of thousands of people delivering a speech and walking on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, walking next to Dr. King many times.
“And [he delivered that speech] at the age of 23 when we have guys who are 22 and 24 years old on the roster who get the opportunity and luxury of playing basketball for a living. It’s an ideal time for us to lean into gratitude and lean into joy in our life and commemorate a guy who stood for a lot for a lot of human beings.”
In addition to Vaughn’s comments at practice and on the Zoom call, several Nets players and owner Joe Tsai tweeted out their thanks to Lewis...
Rip John Lewis. Hero...— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) July 18, 2020
One of the greatest leaders out community has had!! We appreciate everything you’ve fought for and we will continue that fight!! Rest in Power Mr. Lewis!!! ✊ ✊ ✊ https://t.co/PHfHuiWzp6— Garrett Temple (@GTemp17) July 18, 2020
MR. JOHN LEWIS GOT TO LIVE A LONG PURPOSEFUL LIFE (80 yrs.) AND WITNESSED THE CHANGE HE FOUGHT FOR. SOMETHING WE ALL HOPE DO BE ABLE TO DO! REST IN PEACE GOOD MAN. ✊— Justin Anderson (@JusAnderson1) July 18, 2020
We mourn the loss of Rep. John Lewis. The iconic leader fought for civil rights and justice his entire life. RIP. https://t.co/u51Svg3tvo— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) July 18, 2020
The Nets will practice again Sunday.
- Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn inspires players using speech of John Lewis - Steve Popper - Newsday
- COACH JACQUE VAUGHN SHARES JOHN LEWIS REMEMBRANCE WITH BROOKLYN NETS - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets