SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – With February being Black History Month, Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley has been talking about black history and civil rights for many years, even before the age of Twitter.
“Before Twitter, it was a little tougher to get your voice out there,” Conley said. “But I’ve spoken out on basically everything. From riots to Black Lives Matter to whatever it may be. It’s easier to do it now, easier to get your words out there to create awareness to whatever situation you’re trying to create awareness to.”
When the NBA was in the bubble three years ago, Conley wore “I am a Man” on his jersey, paying homage to the Memphis Sanitation Strike.
Conley has strong ties to Memphis, having played for the Grizzlies for the first 12 years of his career, and when the video of Tyre Nichols being beaten to death by police was released, Conley tweeted, “I’ve been at a loss for words over the death of Tyre Nichols. I’m sending love to his family and to the city of Memphis, and I share in your pain over this tragic loss. Justice for Tyre.”
Conley feels it’s important for players to speak out even if not all fans share the same opinions.
“It takes a lot to stand for something that a lot of people might disagree on,” he said. “Maybe they’ll never watch you again, or maybe they’ll never be a fan again. You have to be prepared for that kind of response.”
Conley has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to various causes, most recently Covid relief efforts. Being a 16-year NBA veteran, a lot of younger players, like Donovan Mitchell, have come to Conley for advice on how to make their voices heard.
“I tell all the guys now that before you speak out on anything, try to educate yourself on the situation,” Conley said. “It’s not always the best thing to blurt out everything you feel as soon as you read something. Take a minute, digest it, understand the situation. If it’s racial, if it’s police, if it’s anti-semitic, whatever situation it is, make sure you know what you’re doing before you got out and reach out.”