Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey on Capitol riots: ‘A huge attack on our democracy’

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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Hours after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, the Detroit Pistons prepared for a basketball game. 

The Pistons were set to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday in the second of consecutive road games against their Central Division foe, but the events in Washington were on the minds of NBA coaches and players. 

It’s especially pertinent for the NBA, a league that has embraced social justice movements and characterized much of its return to play in last year’s “bubble” around advancing the national conversation about racial inequality. The Bucks boycotted a playoff game in August to bring attention to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in their home state of Wisconsin. And though the Pistons weren’t in the bubble, head coach Dwane Casey led the Pistons in marching with protestors in June.

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Casey said his players discussed Wednesday’s events in the locker room, and he expressed his thoughts to the media. 

“As a father and husband (and a) human being, the situation that happened at our Capitol today and seeing our house, seeing our people’s house be stormed like that and be taken, basically, whoever it was, I don’t know if it’s a group or whoever it is, it was malicious, it was dangerous, it’s a huge attack on our democracy and that is concerning,” Casey said. “It’s far more dangerous and more important than basketball.”

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Casey, who grew up in rural Kentucky and has said he experienced racism as a child, said Wednesday’s events were quite different from anything he’d gone through previously.

“It wasn’t an attack on our country,” he said of the difference between his childhood experiences and Wednesday’s events. “It was an attack on a race of people, but not an attack on the country, so to speak. It’s our country and we’re all in this, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, whatever it is, doesn’t matter. It’s our country that was being attacked, our capitol building. It’s as bad, but it’s an attack on our country. If you’re a patriot, if you’re an American citizen, it should concern you to see that happen to our Capitol.”

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Rather than protest Wednesday’s game, Casey said he saw value in the Pistons playing. It can be a source of motivation for his players, and for a few hours, it’ll be a distraction from what happened earlier in the day. 

“I thought back to the day that they cleared out the path to go to the church to hold the Bible, the force that they used to clear that out,” he said, referencing the use of pepper spray against protesters outside the White House back in June. “It’s concerning, you think about the hypocrisy sometimes in that situation and again, all those things run through your mind. I talked to my kids and talked to them about it, they’re watching television, those things, your kids will remember for the rest of their lives. Again, it’s an attack on our democracy first and the hypocrisy on top of that is a lot to be said.” 

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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