The NBA community has taken a keen interest in the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse — and many have made it a racial issue.
James Cadogan, executive director of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, released a statement.
"Our thoughts are with the families of those whose lives were taken in this tragedy," Cadogan said. "The right to peacefully protest is a bedrock of our democracy and the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition remains committed to preserving that right for all. Any forms of vigilantism in our society are unacceptable."
Golden State Warriors coach and progressive activist Steve Kerr told reporters on Friday, "It wasn't a shocking verdict. But it's one that poses great risk going forward if we continue to go down this path with 'open carry' and states determining that people – even underage people – can carry weapons of war. This is America. We're treading down a dangerous path."
Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, "Hoping for improvement. Organizationally, just continue to fight for social justice, for better. But at the same time, have to abide by the jury and the decision and the verdict and continue to fight for better."
Bucks' small forward Khris Middleton said the team held a meeting to discuss Rittenhouse being cleared of murder charges by a jury of his peers.
"We talked about [the verdict] a little bit as a team," Middleton said. "Speaking for myself it was definitely disappointing, but at the same time, it really wasn't surprising about the verdict. I watched [the trial] a little bit, and was able to keep up with it, but it's something that I think we've all seen over and over again."
Portland Trail Blazers guard and National Basketball Players Association president CJ McCollum reacted to the verdict by tweeting, "Sick world."
Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said, "These situations are disappointing. It's important not to become demoralized and for people to continue to fight for the type of justice and equality that serves all."
During the ESPN show "NBA Today," the sports analysts discussed the Rittenhouse verdict for nearly 10 minutes before they talked about basketball.
"We're starting with something that is much more important, a verdict in a courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin," said host Malika Andrews.
She then brought race into the conversation about Rittenhouse — who is white — having shot three white men who attacked him.
Speaking to her fellow hosts — former NBA players Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins — Andrews told them, "We are all black people, and so I wanted to make sure that we created some space for anything that we want to say here before we talk about basketball."
Perkins said the verdict was "mind-boggling."
"I'm not surprised," Perkins said. "It's very disturbing, it's not just a gun, we talking about an AK."
Rittenhouse did not have an AK-47 at the time of the shooting, but rather a semiautomatic Smith & Wesson M&P 15.
Jefferson said, "If you live in America, if know the history of America" then you're not surprised by Rittenhouse's acquittal.
Jefferson pushed the incorrect statement that Rittenhouse crossed state lines with a firearm.
"He was a kid that took a gun across state lines and went and did what he did," Jefferson proclaimed. "And they are saying that is lawful."
To his credit, Jefferson issued a correction to his mistake, something that is rarely done by members of the legacy media.
"I want to address something. I made a mistake during a very emotional time. I said something that was false," Jefferson said on Saturday.
"I have covered very emotional moments in my career from the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd to the tragic death of Kobe and GiGi and the families in the crash," he continued. "I read something that was false. He did not bring a gun across state lines."
"I apologize for this and I will be BETTER. I'm a man and will not hide," Jefferson wrote on Twitter. "I have spoken for 1000's of hours on Television and crucial mistake are rarely made but when they are made they should be addressed."
Jefferson returned to his original point that he believed Rittenhouse should have been convicted.
"The point that I was trying to make is to live in a world where killing 2 people and injuring another has ZERO CONSEQUENCES. That is sending a very scary message," he tweeted. "Thank you and be safe."
Following the typhoon of false narratives about Kyle Rittenhouse by public figures, there is growing support for defamation lawsuits to be filed against the media corporations and politicians who have allegedly painted him as a "murderer" and "white supremacist."