Two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith dropped by CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney on Tuesday for a fruitful discussion about race relations and police brutality in America.
Brandon Tierney, the son of a retired New York detective, believes that there are absolutely bad cops in this country, but he also believes that African-Americans must show more prudence when stopped by police. Do not resist arrest, do not fight police.
“I agree with that part of it,” said Smith, an NBA on TNT analyst. “But if the evidence is correct, Mr. (Philando) Castile (did that). That’s when he got shot. There is a disparity. Before we can get to that point, I think there’s a bigger issue of fear. Not even fear, (but) I think there’s a thought process that a lot of police officers have that, to diffuse a situation with young black Americans, it’s easier to diffuse the situation by force. I’ll give you another stat since we’re sports guys. In the first 24 days in 2015, more people were killed by police than in 24 years in England. Twenty-four days. Proportionally we look at this year, already 558 have been killed, 114 are African-American men. We only make up, again, six percent of the country, so we’re not getting a six percent proportion rate. Even if you spread it equally upon there, it’s not working correctly. I think that there is this (thought process) that you need to diffuse situations in the African-American community (by force). But there first has to be acknowledgment of we haven’t been doing it correctly and we can do better. If you don’t trust someone, (it’s difficult). There’s been a history of reasons why you shouldn’t trust police in an African-American community.”
Tierney did not try to defend history, nor did he want to. He called the treatment of African-Americans over the years “appalling and reprehensible.” But he also pointed out that Rosa Parks was 61 years ago. Several generations have come and done. Surely police don’t feel now as they felt then about African-Americans, right?
“I would say that the dinner tables at my house created an actual distrust for the law enforcement,” Smith said. “Not saying I wouldn’t abide by the law, not saying I don’t think that there’s good cops, (not saying I’m not) a law-abiding citizen. But there is a distrust and there has to be an acknowledgment that we have to do better. I don’t think the burden of proof is on the African-American community. If you don’t trust someone, it’s not my burden to show you how to trust me. You have to prove your trust. If you look at all the statistics, you go, ‘We don’t trust the police. We’re going to get arrested because (we’re) in a poor neighborhood.’ Because when you’re poor, if you don’t pay a ticket, you go to jail. If you’re rich, you just pay the ticket. It’s really a poor social economic as well as black problem. They have to acknowledge that this is not right. The system doesn’t work.”
That is why Smith, 51, is calling on NBA players to take a stand against injustice.
“The NBA players have the antidote,” he said. “I challenge each guy to allocate 10 percent of their salary to the communities that they’ve come from. Ten percent. Think of the agent. Ten percent and this dude just makes a phone call. He makes a phone call. We only make up six percent of the country, but we make up 74 percent of the NBA. So that $90 million per team per year per salary cap goes to 74 percent of the African-American men in our league, which means we are the richest black men in America as a group. No question about it. So now you can make a social-economic impact, which creates empowerment and creates education and opportunities that allow you to skip past all of the things that go on for a big group. It would allow a big group to skip past certain things that they have to deal with now. I think that’s the responsibility. Take 10 percent, allocate it to those communities. I didn’t say donate it. There’s a difference. Allocate it and create programs. I will help you put programs together that you want to do. But you have an antidote and a social and economic responsibility to do it as an NBA player.”