On a Friday night, violence blew like the wind. It was intentional. When it was over, there was no escaping the grief. The desecration was complete. Terrified were the murdered. Sorrowful is the world. Grief stricken are the survivors. Numb is the human population by what happened. Gunman took their hateful rage to a Paris soccer game, a concert, and a busy street of restaurants and bars. When it was all over, all said and done, when it was quiet except for the screams, 129 were dead, 350 injured, 99 seriously wounded.
Heartbroken and confused and feeling helpless and angry by the gruesome set of events are the French citizens of the NBA who make their living in the United States, so far away from home. Tony Parker (Spurs), Boris Diaw (Spurs), Rudy Gobert (Jazz), Evan Fournier (Magic), Nic Batum (Hornets), Alexis Ajinca (Pelicans), Ian Mahinmi (Pacers), Joakim Noah (Bulls), Kevin Seraphin (Knicks), Clint Capela (Rockets).
They mourn as does the world because the largest attack in Paris since World War II happened in our lifetime, courtesy of gunmen and multiple suicide bombers whose identity is a solvable mystery. The terrorists, by design and intense planning, took the lives of hundreds. An American student died in the attack, shot while having dinner. Another American was wounded. Seven terrorists were killed, all of whom had assault rifles. The Islamic State is taking responsibility for the carnage but it is too soon to verify if what they say is true.
It started out as an ordinary day and then a Friday night with family and friends doing things you normally do at the end of the week when you go out to have a good time. It ended with tragedy, cruelty, bloodshed and death. And cries.
No one made mention of the date, Friday the 13th. The unlucky day. Kobe Bryant summed it up as “evil people are in the world.”
LeBron James said, “Our world right now is having so many different tragedies. So many different innocent people and victims are losing lives over nonsense.”
If only it was as simple as nonsense, then we could fix it. We could erase it. We could indeed wipe it from earth so our children and our friends would never be crushed by murder. If only we knew when not to go out to dinner or to a concert or crossing the street. If only we could avoid the ones who have no conscience and have no soul. But it is the part of life that is so unfair, when bad things happen to good people and there is nothing left to do but to cry.
Alexis Ajinca admitted he was worried about his family. It took awhile for him to hear that they were safe.
“It’s a crazy world. You think you’re safe, you’re just walking down the stret and the next thing you know, people start shooting. During the whole game I was trying to get this out of my mind so I was able to stay focused.”
Nic Batum of the Hornets has family who live in the vicinity of the attacks. “I talked to my sister and some friends and everybody is all right. They’re shocked. They told me Paris is like a war outside. Everybody is outside. The police is outside. The army is outside.”
Clint Capela spent his childhood in Paris. “That’s hard for me because this is like my country because I grew up there. I have relatives up there in Paris. I’m really sad about that. It’s hard.”
Kevin Seraphin felt powerless, there was nothing he could do to help. “You just think about how some people went to a soccer game or went to see a comedy and are not coming back home. It’s just scary.”
Joakim Noah: “I just know it’s very sad what’s going on in Paris. A lot of people died for no reason.”
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This is the formula, what we know to be true. The day after there are a lot of arrests, a lot of furious people with microphones. President Francois Hollande called the attack(s) “an act of war. We will lead the fight and we will be ruthless.” President Obama called the attacks “outrageous.”
This is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share. (Barack Obama)
The Pope said, “There is no religious or human justification for it. I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims and I am praying for all of them. I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand. These things are hard to understand.”
The day after, there are a lot of tears and quiet suffering and accounting of the dead. There are phone calls and coffins shipped home. There is dirt tossed aside, graves to be dug. The American who died was a 23 year old student from El Monte, California. Her name is Nohemi Gonzalez. She was in Paris for the semester studying design.
Outside of Paris and France, the shock has given way to anger and the refusal to give in. Vigils in every city around the world have a unifying theme. Fear and a change of lifestyle means the terrorists win. Remain free. What you did yesterday, do today. And tomorrow.
Fear has two meanings. Forget everything and run. Or. Face everything and rise. The choice is yours.