Ex-NBAer Stephen Jackson ‘destroyed’ over friend George Floyd’s death

San Antonio Spurs' Stephen Jackson grimaces in a game in 2013 (Eric Gay/AP)

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson said on Thursday he is “destroyed” over the tragic death of his lifelong friend George Floyd.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on Monday night after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground for several minutes beneath a Minneapolis police officer’s knee. Floyd had been arrested after an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called the police, alleging Floyd tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill.

The incident, which was captured on video, showed Floyd pinned to the ground with his hands cuffed and Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin – who was identified as the primary officer in the video – with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck. In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, and later paramedics are seen lifting an apparently non-responsive Floyd onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

Jackson, a former NBA journeyman, said he couldn’t contain his emotions when he heard the news of Floyd’s death.

“I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter, almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad,” Jackson said on the Today Show Thursday morning during an interview with news anchor Craig Melvin. “Because I’m the type of guy that I’ll get mad and I’ll get a full face of tears when I see a homeless man on the street that I can’t help. So let alone my best friend on TV for the world to see getting killed over a fake $20 bill. It just destroyed me and I haven’t been the same since I’ve seen it.”

In the interview, Melvin brings attention to Floyd’s desperate cries for his mother — who has been deceased for about two years now — as Chauvin had his knee pinned to Floyd’s neck.

“It hurt, man. It hurt because I knew that was a cry for help,” a choked-up Jackson said in response to Melvin’s query. “I’m a strong Black man and I know Floyd. That’s a cry for help. We don’t scream our mother’s name like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy and we can’t control it. That was a cry for help…

“I was just talking to his daughter’s mother yesterday and the whole time I’m talking to her the daughter is screaming. She has to see this. The whole world has to see this. She has to deal with this for the rest of her life. It’s just not right, man.”

“We always hung together, every time I went to Houston it was my first stop to pick him up and see [how he was],” Jackson said. “What’s killing me the most about this whole thing is being a professional athlete, so many people abuse your friendship and kindness and he was one of those guys that genuinely supported me. He didn’t call unless he really needed it and you don’t have very many people that genuinely support you without any motives and Floyd was that guy.”

After the graphic video circulated widely on social media, Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, denounced the actions of the four officers who were involved and said on Tuesday afternoon that they had been fired. Frey has called for criminal charges to be levied against Chauvin.

According to The Associated Press, Floyd, a Houston native, moved to Minneapolis several years ago in hopes of starting anew with a new job.

The 42-year-old Jackson is from Port Arthur, Texas, a town about 45 minutes away from Houston, and, as he described to Melvin, the two became fast friends upon first meeting.

“It was meant to be,” Jackson said of their friendship.

The anger and sadness Jackson was feeling in the interview has been echoed by many throughout the United States, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who recently posted a pointed comparison photo on his Instagram account showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the U.S. national anthem in protest of violence by police against the Black community.

Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke

Welcome back to Instagram. Sign in to check out what your friends, family & interests have been capturing & sharing around the world.

In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, protests and, eventually, rioting took place across South Minneapolis overnight and into Thursday, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets as people set buildings on fire and looted stores.

Jackson said that while he thinks Floyd would be grateful for the sentiment behind these actions, he still wouldn’t condone it.

“He’d want the people who are responsible for his death penalized. He wasn’t the kind of person to want to hurt innocent people. We were the same kind of people. Like I said, we would ride and see a homeless person and if we can’t do nothing for him we’d get emotional. So this is not what Floyd would want. Floyd would want everyone standing together and fighting for justice and that’s it.”

With how personal this hit for him, Jackson appears to be determined to make this particular case of police violence against the African-American community one that will never be forgotten.

“A lot of police brutality has gone on. A lot of Black young men have died. George Floyd’s name is going to be remembered because we’re going to get change,” Jackson said emphatically. “This was not right and in some kind of way we’ve got to get change, man. America, you don’t want us pulling the ‘You’ on you. And I mean that by saying that you don’t want the people that you’ve been brutalizing, the people that you’ve been treating like trash, you don’t want them to turn on you and that’s why America is so scared of us.

“But we’re not gonna do that. We come from a place of love. Every post of my Instagram I post, ‘Love to all who have love to all’ with fist emojis from every colour and every race. Because I’m telling someone from every race that I love them, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”

Twin would want unity. Twin would want his kids taken care of. Twin would want justice and that’s what “WE” gonna get. Love to all who have love for all . #ivehadenough Rest Easy Big Floyd Da God A.K.A. Twin

Welcome back to Instagram. Sign in to check out what your friends, family & interests have been capturing & sharing around the world.

— With files from The Associated Press

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.