Doc Rivers’ impassioned speech on race turned into ad by conservatives against Trump

Doc Rivers' impromptu speech on race and the RNC was turned into an ad by the Lincoln Project, a group led by Republicans and conservatives

LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been around the league for a long time. He has three sons of his own, including Houston Rockets player Austin Rivers, and a ‘bonus’ son in Dallas Mavericks player Seth Curry who married his daughter, Callie.

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Needless to say as a father, grandfather, and coach of over two decades, Rivers, 58, has spent much of his adult life raising and guiding young Black men. Therefore his impassioned speech after a game while the Republican National Convention was going on last month should have come as no surprise.

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 25: Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers talks with guard Lou Williams #23 in the first half against the Dallas Mavericks in game five of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 25, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

Asked about race in a post-game press conference, a visibly moved Rivers asked how he could love America when America didn’t love him back.

“What stands out to me is just watching the Republican Convention,” Rivers said.

“They’re spewing this fear, right? You hear Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that were denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad.”

Trump Visits Kenosha, WI In Response To Violence
Protesters hold a banner during a community celebration and call for justice for Jacob Blake as grassroots group MoveOn flies an airplane banner and drives a mobile billboard calling on voters to “Reject Trump’s Violence,” in response to Donald Trump’s visit on September 01, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for MoveOn)

The impassioned speech has now been turned into an ad by The Lincoln Project, an organization formed by conservatives and Republicans who believe President Donald Trump is a significant threat to American democracy and is supporting the election of Joe Biden.

Rick Wilson, the co-founder of The Lincoln Project, says the original video was shared with him through a friend who knows Rivers. He recognized its power right away, working to turn it into an ad that juxtaposes Rivers’ words with images of the summer’s protests after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Rivers gave the ad his blessing.

“Doc has a particular gravity to him that cut across the political moment that we’re in, ” Wilson says in an exclusive interview with theGrio.  

“His response was so visceral and so passionate and so real based on the experience of any African American man in that moment. There are plenty of ads I’ve made over the years when I said ‘that was a good performance.” 

Rick Wilson Doc Rivers Lincoln Project
Rick Wilson (Credit: Rick Wilson)

Wilson continues about the impact the words Rivers had.

“This wasn’t a performance – it was a window into his soul,” he declares.

Last month, Rivers was among the coaches providing some wisdom to NBA players led by the Milwaukee Bucks, who refused to take the floor for a closeout game against the Orlando Magic on Aug. 26. As reported by theGrio, the players were protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old father shot eight times in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin police.

Kenosha is roughly 45 minutes from the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee where the Bucks play. The team’s impromptu strike rippled through the sports world, suspending the NBA playoffs for two days and in three other major sports leagues as the WNBA, and some teams in major league baseball and major league soccer also refused to play.

That frustration was echoed in Rivers’ lament.

“That video, if you watch that video, you don’t need to be black to be outraged,” Rivers said. “You need to be American and outraged. How dare the Republicans talk about fear? We’re the ones that need to be scared. We’re the ones having to talk to every black child. What white father has to give his son a talk about being careful if you get pulled over?”

The images in the ad show protests, scenes from the Republican National Convention, and police in riot gear meeting peaceful protestors with force. It captures both the indomitable spirit of those seeking civil rights and the impact of having to constantly assert your humanity.

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The Lincoln Project, which is also responsible for the ‘Flag of Treason’ ad that took issue with the persistence of the Confederate flag, hopes that the pain in Rivers’ words translates to those still on the fence. Now online and on TV, the ad is targeted to voters in Pennsylvania and Florida who have yet to recognize that Trump’s presidency has fanned the flames of divisiveness and fallen short of America’s promise and its stated ideals.

“I want this to help motivate and mobilize people in this election- younger voters in particular,” Wilson says. “There are issues Donald Trump will ignore or weaponize in this race… I want to make sure we have a narrative for what’s happened for real in this country.”

Watch the ad below:

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