Heat’s Udonis Haslem eager to help community, police work ‘together’

Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem said on Sunday that he’s “torn” amid the nationwide protests following the death of a black man in Minnesota who was in police custody. But Haslem also said he’s eager to help bridge the gap between communities.

Haslem, who said he has multiple family members who work for the Miami Police Department, said protesters should consider that many in law enforcement strive to help the areas in which they serve.

“There definitely has to be justice for George [Floyd]; there definitely has to be protests for what happened to George. But I’d be lying if I said that it’s been going about the right way,” Haslem said at a news conference held by Miami police. “I’d be lying if I said that I’m proud of what’s really been going on. I have an obligation to this community, because this community has done so much for me. But I also have an obligation to the police department, as well. So many of my family members come here every day. They work, they take care of people, they make sure people are safe, so there’s got to be a better way. I stand here right now confused, torn, frustrated.

“I just want to be a part of the solution. We have to have a plan moving forward. It has to be together.”

Floyd, who was black, died after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Chauvin was fired on Tuesday and charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were also fired but have not been charged.

“They were terrible people before they put that badge on, man. For you to stand there and watch that, it’s got nothing to do with your badge, it’s got nothing to do with your color, it has nothing to do with your race; it’s something inside you that’s messed up,” Haslem said of the officers involved in Floyd’s death. “It’s your soul that ain’t right.”

Haslem has played all 17 of his NBA seasons with the Heat. This season, Haslem has appeared in only three games, and he alluded to that on Sunday.

“Just because I don’t get the minutes that I used to get don’t mean that I’m going to fade away and you’re not going to see me or hear from me. I’m going to figure out a way to master the role that I have. The role that I have now is to be a leader,” Haslem said. “People say people are born leaders. I couldn’t have [been] born for this. I would have never seen this coming. But I’m here now. It’s my responsibility to do something.”

Meanwhile, Enes Kanter and Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics spoke at a demonstration in Boston on Sunday. The afternoon of mostly peaceful protests broke at nightfall when protesters clashed with officers, throwing rocks and lighting a police vehicle on fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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