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Pat Chambers Talks Black Lives Matter Movement, Michael Jordan On The Jim Rome Show

Penn State men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers joined sportscaster Jim Rome’s show on CBS Sports Radio Friday afternoon to discuss the Nittany Lions’ historic season, Michael Jordan, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rome opened the show by checking in with Chambers and his family, to which the coach said both his immediate family and his Penn State family were both doing well.

The last time Rome and Chambers spoke was on March 11, just a few hours before the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Gobert’s test ended up being the first domino to fall in the sports world, as the NBA season, Big Ten tournament, and March Madness were all canceled soon afterwards.

Chambers, again, emphasized how challenging and emotionally devastating the season’s premature end was for him and his players.

“In all transparency, it took me a long time to get over that,” Chambers said. “We’ve been through a lot of losses, a lot of down years, and we put ourselves in position to be real, real successful.”

The head coach also emphasized how hard it was to tell his players that the Big Ten tournament had been canceled, especially coming off a great set of practices leading up to it.

“We went to the arena, we had a shoot around, the vibe was amazing, the juice was off the charts, we couldn’t wait for this new season,” he said in reference to postseason tournaments. “And then to take that momentum into a meeting at the hotel and look these guys in the eye…It was just tears, it was just devastation.”

Chambers added it was especially hard to break the news to Lamar Stevens, who finished his collegiate career just seven points shy of Penn State’s scoring record.

“You don’t know what to say to him, we’re grieving. This was our moment, this was our chance to shine…It just hurts you so much, the pain that we felt, the suffering that we felt,” Chambers said.

He also emphasized the respect he has for Stevens, who came back to Penn State for his senior season in search of a deep postseason run. But Chambers’ admiration for the forward doesn’t stop there, especially in the wake of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stevens addressed a huge crowd outside the Allen Street Gates on May 31 during a peaceful protest demanding justice for George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody in May.

“I was so proud of him,” Chambers said of his star player. “Him and I talked later that afternoon…It wasn’t a long speech, but it was a powerful speech. He wanted everyone to know how he felt, and he wanted to lead the charge. I love everything about him, I love everything he stands for, and I think he showed his character.”

After having a conversation with the team, Chambers released a video with Stevens and assistant coach Kevin Freeman addressing the death of Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. The team felt like a live video medium would be more effective than simply issuing a statement condemning racism and police brutality.

“Lamar was one of those guys who said ‘Hey, this is what we need to do,’ that way we can show how we really and truly feel instead of hiding behind a statement,” Chambers added. “That’s Lamar Stevens. That shows you his character.”

Chambers also discussed being a leader and an agent of change such an uncertain and uncomfortable time. The head coach said he’s mainly been having discussions, both public and private, to keep the conversation going.

“The thing that we need to do is, we can’t remain silent. We have to keep having these conversations,” Chambers said. “I don’t want my guys living in fear. I don’t want my players living in fear, I don’t want my former players living in fear, I don’t want the black community living in fear anymore. I can’t even fathom that.”

Chambers finished the show by touching on ESPN’s documentary series ‘The Last Dance,” which profiled Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs in the 90s. The main thing he took away from the series was the investment that Jordan and his teammates put in.

“Jordan, we always see him crying, we always see him so emotional — and he even got emotional during the interview process — we always tell our guys, we always tell our ladies: invest,” Chambers said passionately. “If you invest you’re gonna put everything into it, and if you come up short, that’s when the tears come.”

Chambers mentioned the importance of being completely invested in winning and being the best is, especially from an emotional standpoint. He said not investing in winning can easily turn into complacency with losing.

The emotion surrounding the end of this year’s season certainly showcased the Nittany Lions’ investment in making a postseason run, and Chambers hopes to continue and sustain success heading into the future.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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