Syracuse wing Alan Griffin spoke to media for the first time on Friday since he was granted a waiver of eligibility by the NCAA earlier in August. But he deflected all questions about basketball, and instead used the 20 minute zoom call to address issues of social injustices in America.
“I do care that I am committed (to Syracuse),” Griffin said. “But that’s not what I wanted to speak about today. It’s hard for most people to say, but I want to use my platform to speak out about what’s going on in today’s world.”
Griffin’s comments come on the heels of a video going viral of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting an unarmed black man in the back. Athletes across the United States, including in the NBA, WNBA, NFL and MLB boycotted games beginning Wednesday in response.
The NBA players union agreed to resume playoff games on Saturday, a decision that Griffin didn’t personally agree with.
“I don’t think players should continue,” Griffin said. “We don’t need to have any major sports going on until we get the situation resolved.”
Though the NBA season was initially put on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was some discussion of cancelling the remainder of the season so that players could focus their efforts on addressing racial issues.
The main advocate of that approach was Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who received push back from media and other players. The NBA eventually restarted games in August in a bubble located in Orlando, Florida.
The recent events have vindicated Irving’s position, Griffin said, adding that Irving was owed an apology.
The Syracuse basketball team hasn’t canceled any practices following the shooting, but Griffin said the team has had many conversations on this topic since he committed to the team in April.
“It was very disturbing for the people of my color and it should be disturbing for everybody,” Griffin said. “We’re all human and at the end of the day, you only get one life.”
Several current and former Syracuse players took to social media, and former Orange and current Indianapolis Colts linebacker Ziare Franklin held a press conference to further address national unrest and racial tensions.
“We need wide-scale change,” he said.
Griffin said that while he personally has not been subjected to racial profiling by police, he has kept tabs of incidents on social media, repeatedly calling them “disturbing.”
In the meantime, every SU basketball player who is eligible to vote in the United States (several of the SU players are international athletes) are now registered, Griffin said.
“Everybody needs to vote,” he said.