NEW YORK CITY (NEXSTAR) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is taking heat on Monday for comments made during a Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute before a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
Ahead of an early MLK Day game, Adams took the court and addressed the crowd, saying: “As we honor the life and times of Dr. King during some of the most difficult moments — when the Civil Rights battle was on the line, Dr. King wanted the ball in his hand. And he gave his life to ensure that our country would be a better place for all of us. Right now, we want the ball in our hand again as we deal with COVID, as we deal with crime, as we deal with uncertainty.”
Adams’ comments were greeted by some applause and some jeers. One fan even shouted “Shut the f— up,” according to the New York Daily News. The NYC mayor, only in office for a few weeks, didn’t fare any better on social media, where Adams’ words were knocked and memed.
“Watching Eric Adams get booed at this Knicks game is the best comedy special of 2022,” comedian Max Fine tweeted.
“Legend has it, MLK had a mean hesi-dribble,” said sports writer Michael-Shawn Dugar.
Some knocked Adams’ past as a police officer, as ongoing conversations about the policing of Black Americans continues — in addition to increased patrols of police in New York City’s subway stations and trains. These increases are viewed by some as unfairly threatening to poorer people of color.
Others pointed out that King didn’t “give his life,” but was assassinated.
“One thing I hate hearing about MLK is that ‘he gave his life.’ No, he was murdered at the age of 39. I’m sure he wasn’t ready to ‘give his life’ at 39. His life was taken from him,” tweeted actor Jacquis Neal.
“Let’s win this for team New York and for Team America. Let’s take the ball and have the final goal,” Adams concluded in his Monday speech.
The Knicks wound up losing to Charlotte 97-87.