Memorial grows for Dallas Police Officers
DALLAS – Donnie Nelson gave a moving speech Friday while paying respect to the four police officers from the Dallas Police Department and one officer of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit who were killed and others who were injured Thursday night in a hail of gunfire following a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas.
The president of basketball operations and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, Nelson said: "Our thoughts and prayers are going out to the families that fell in the police department (Thursday), and DART and all the civilians that were obviously impacted by that incredible tragedy. The DPD is family around here.’’
DPD officers always work security at American Airlines Center, where the Mavericks play their home games. Many of them are on a first-name basis with Nelson, media members and other Mavericks personnel.
So what happened Thursday hit home for Nelson.
"All the sports teams in the Metroplex, we’ve got a very unique relationship with the people that protect our freedom every single day,’’ Nelson said. "And whether it’s off-shore or literally in our own backyard, they’re the most important component to protecting what we hold dearest, and that’s out freedom.’’
In the numerous NBA jobs he’s held since 1984, Nelson has spent countless days overseas checking out and recruiting international talent. Thus, he knows the importance of the protection that comes from a police department.
"Those of us who have had an opportunity to travel across the pond and have seen what it’s like in those countries, where it is chaos, we understand the value of our local law enforcements and those folks that are defending those freedoms every single day,’’ Nelson said. "When you’ve got a passport that thick you really understand how lucky we are in this country, and I’ve been there and I’ve seen what chaos looks like.
"It’s a very fine line between what we experience in this country in terms of freedom, and without those folks that are dressed in blue – the real heroes – those folks that are projecting us overseas, we’d be Syria and some of those other countries that are not the most desirable places to live on the planet earth.’’
Nelson was passionate when he spoke, and didn’t mince words. Suddenly, basketball meant very little to Nelson as he tried to make sense of Thursday’s tragedy.
"Again, our hearts and prayers go out to all the families that were affected,’’ Nelson said. "On behalf of this franchise I want to thank all the folks that -- over there at the DPD and the gentleman that lost his life with the DART -- and from the bottom of our hearts we’ll be there to support them every step up the way.’’