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7 Jan, 2021 13:13

‘Had to make it about race’: NBA champ fuels predictable row by comparing Capitol Hill clashes to Black Lives Matter demos (VIDEO)

‘Had to make it about race’: NBA champ fuels predictable row by comparing Capitol Hill clashes to Black Lives Matter demos (VIDEO)

NBA head coach Doc Rivers has claimed that the police response to the protests on the Capitol "prove a point" about racial discrimination in the US, leading to an online row that has been stoked by other prominent sports figures.

Philadelphia 76ers boss Rivers, who accused outgoing president Donald Trump's Republican party of "spewing this fear" in August, was unflinching in his appraisal of the shocking unrest at the US Congress, watching in horror as violent clashes led to the deaths of four people.

The former NBA All-Star and NBA Coach of the Year dismissed a suggestion that the uproar, caused when pro-Trump demonstrators descended on the Capitol to challenge the US presidential election result, was an "assault on democracy".

"Democracy will prevail, it always does," said the forlorn-sounding 59-year-old in a pre-game press conference.

"It shows a lot, though: when you saw the [Black Lives Matter] protests in the summer, you saw the riots, or more the police and the national guard and the army.

"[For] this, you saw nothing. It basically proves a point about a privileged life, in a lot of ways.

"I'll say it because I don't think a lot of people want to: can you imagine, today, those were all black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened?

"That, to me, is a picture that paints a thousand words for all of us to see. People peacefully being escorted out of the Capitol.

"It's a sad day - not good for our country, or across the borders. People see this, but it's a part of what we are and we have to solve it."

Rivers's remarks received a mixed reaction online, including many responses shunning his suggestion that the scenes spoke of a racially-motivated reaction while arguing that the point of the protests was entirely to do with the validity of the election.

"I don’t understand why some black people are making this an issue of race," said a Philadelphia Eagles fans.

"It’s about people thinking an election was rigged. Two completely different things."

Another replied: "Nobody is making this about race except for the media. Why is a hypothetical situation relevant in the slightest bit?"

NBA great Dwyane Wade shared a photo from inside the Capitol that appeared to show a non-violent confrontation including people wearing Trump's familiar "Make America Great Again" baseball caps.

"Black people get pulled over and don’t make it out alive," said the three-time NBA champion. "We can’t sleep in our own beds without being killed.

"We can’t jog without being killed. We can’t walk down the street with our hoodies up without being killed, but [the protestors] can do this?"

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African-American film director and former NFL player Matthew Cherry made an even more extraordinary claim, declaring that "they would have dropped a whole bomb on the Capitol if this was us."

Political soapbox regular and former England football favorite Gary Lineker echoed Rivers's line by endorsing a message from a broadcaster and Black Lives Matter supporter showing a clip from the Capitol.

"Can you imagine what would happen to them if they were black?" they asked, to which Lineker replied for the benefit of his millions of followers: "Indeed."

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