June 19th is Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a new federal holiday.
Before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the 76ers and Atlanta Hawks, both coaches, Doc Rivers and Nate McMillan, weighed in on the new holiday.
“I’m very happy that it has been recognized and that it’s a national holiday,” said Rivers, a prominent voice on social issues among NBA coaches and players. “Honestly, I would rather the George Floyd bill be passed, and there’s real legislation.”
Known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, the bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability
“We give holidays pretty easy, so don’t take that I am not proud. Those people worked hard to get that as a holiday, but we have a lot of work to do still,” Rivers said.
McMillan, like Rivers, appreciates the effort but would like to see more done.
“The fact that we are just really recognizing it this year is really shocking and disappointing, and I am glad there have been so many people to continue to fight to [show] ... what has happened to this country, to Black folks,” McMillan said. “[For] President Biden to recognize that date and make it a national holiday, I think it is great. But it has been too long that a lot of these issues that have happened in this country are being brought to the attention of the people here in America.”
Thybulle’s defensive take
In only his second season, Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle was selected to the all-NBA second team for defense. He was the only non-starter named to the first two teams.
“It’s an honor,” Thybulle said following Friday’s shootaround. “I am more worried about winning games than winning personal accolades, so it’s cool to dedicate so much time to this game, your craft, and it is always nice to be recognized for doing it well. So I take it as a compliment, but if anything, it encourages me to work harder and motivates me to want to win even more.”
Former Sixer Lou Williams has high praise for Trae Young
Hawks guard Trae Young has been a dominant force in the series. Young has benefited from the tutelage of former Sixer Lou Williams, who was acquired by the Hawks at the March 25 trade deadline from the Los Angeles Clippers.
In his brief time with the Hawks, Williams has gained a great appreciation for Young.
“He’s a monster,” Williams said after scoring 15 points in Wednesday’s 109-106 win in Philadelphia. “It will be one of those things where I look back when he is a Hall of Famer, an established superstar in this league and I can say I was part of that process and I worked with this gentleman.
“Seeing Trae up close and the things that he’s able to accomplish and the things he is able to go out and do night in and night out at such a young age, with the poise he has, the swag that he has, and the confidence he has in his ability, I’m just proud to be part of it.”
Williams, 34, who was drafted out of high school in the second round by the Sixers in 2005, is completing his 16th NBA season. Young, 22, a one-time All-Star, is completing his third season.
“He listens to me and I try to help him as much as I can, with little tidbits here and there. But just to see him night in and night out, I’m extremely happy for him,” Williams said. “I’m proud of him and I’m happy to call him my friend.”