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Grizzlies call for change, react to death of Tyre Nichols

The Grizzlies returned home, Sunday, for their first home game since the video of the traffic stop that led to Tyre Nichols' death was released.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — People across the country are processing Tyre Nichols’ death days after Memphis Police released videos showing officers beating him during an arrest.

Sunday, the Memphis Grizzlies had their first home game since the release of the video and postgame offered their reaction to the tragedy.

The Grizzlies were away from home when the videos were released on Friday.

After Friday’s road game against the Timberwolves, several Grizzlies took the time to watch the videos of Nichols' encounter with Memphis Police.

"It’s tough to see," Tyus Jones said. "Obviously tough to stomach and a tough watch for those who did watch it."

"I was emotional, I cried. There's not many words, I'm not going to do justice to talk about how I'm really feeling," said head coach Taylor Jenkins.

"I couldn’t even make it through," Ja Morant said.

The team, like so many other Memphians, are wading through a tidal wave of emotions. Five officers have been fired from Memphis police and charged with murder in his death.

A sixth officer was found to be relieved of duty, Monday. Videos of the police encounter show Nichols being beaten, tased, pepper sprayed and propped up against a car where aid wasn't rendered to him for 20 minutes.

"You hate to see it, prayers to his family. I just (was) mind blown and, you know, scary, frustrating," Morant said.

Sunday was a chance to be back home. Among friends and family in FedEx Forum. The Grizzlies held a moment of silence for Nichols and his family.

 Naturally some thoughts. Were not on the night’s opponent.

"It might be bad to say, but it's kind of the truth. It's just there's bigger things than basketball in this world going on" Jones said. "Especially here in Memphis, it's hard not to have your mind elsewhere."

For Jones, it’s the second time shouldering a city’s tragedy. He's from Minnesota and spent four years as a guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

He said he was in Minnesota at the time when George Floyd died at the hands of police in 2020.

"Being in Minnesota when the George Floyd stuff happened as well. Now, being in Memphis, when this happens, it's crazy whenever it happens anywhere. But when you're in that city it hits home just a little bit more," Jones said.

Now the Grizzlies say is a time to unite. Before the release of the videos, Friday, Jaren Jackson Jr tweeted that he and his teammates were paying attention to what was happening. 

He said support for the family and pushing for accountability were most important.

"You don't over analyze you don't over over do it. Because you know, there's people actually involved in it. If you're not actually involved in it, you're not feeling it. So you just support those people. You come together for them," Jackson said.

The team put out a statement as well, offering condolences to the family and asking Memphians to support each other.

Jenkins has been the most outspoken, offering perspective before and after the videos release. He said he cried after watching the videos. After Sunday's 112-100 win over the Pacers, he said the Grizzlies have a role to play in the city's grieving.

"Hopefully the Grizzlies can be a huge part of that healing process," Jenkins said. "Words can't be enough. It's got to be action and it's got to be changing behaviors."

"(Nichols) is going to be in my heart forever and I've never met him, but this is going to sit with me forever and hopefully make me a better person, better leader and hopefully that does for everyone in our community," he said.

Jones recognized that the team and the players, specifically, are looked at as role models. He hopes that he and his teammates can be a beacon of hope.

"We love the city of Memphis and we're going to try to continue to be a light for everyone going through the tough times right now," Jones said.

For the Grizzlies' full reactions to the Tyre Nichols situation, watch here:

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