The shock from Friday’s terror attacks in Paris resonated even within National Basketball Association.
NBA players – those who were born and raised in or have close ties to France – expressed their sadness and concern as news of terrorist attacks in a few areas in Paris unfurled.
New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca, a native of Saint-Etienne, France, was one of those who took to Twitter to voice out his thoughts.
Ajinca’s cousin was at the Stade de France stadium during the France-Germany soccer friendly on Friday when two loud explosions filled the air some 15 minutes into the match.
He later got confirmation that all his family members are safe moments after the Pelicans’ defeat to the Toronto Raptors.
“It’s just a crazy world. You think you’re safe, you’re just walking down the street and the next thing you know, people start shooting,” Ajinca said. “My prayers go to my family and friends.”
Native Frenchman Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, meanwhile, said he was watching the France-Germany match online and heard one of the blasts as the attacks happened.
“I’m fine, but I’m not because we lost people for nothing,” shared Batum after the Hornets’ game versus the Chicago Bulls. “Stupid people, and I don’t know why they are doing that. We’ve got to stay strong. I tried to show people in my way that we’re strong and we won’t [back] down because you are doing bad stuff to people. We’ll keep our heads up, step forward and say we’re better than that.”
Batum also said that one of the people he talked to about the incident was Chicago’s center, Joakim Noah, who grew up in France and whose father, Yannick, is a known French tennis icon.
“A lot of people died for no reason. We’re not really sure exactly what happened. So just calling family before the game, making sure they’re all right,” Noah said.
He added that all his family members who are in Paris are fine.
The Houston Rockets sophomore center Clint Caplea, who grew up near Paris, likewise said he had spoken to relatives who live in Paris about the incident.
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Capela grew up in Chalon, France and played high school basketball at Bois de Vincennes, a school just outside of Paris.
“That’s hard for me because this is like my country because I grew up there. I have relatives up there in Paris, a city like that, means a lot. I have some cousins over there, family. It’s really bothering me. I’m really sad about that, that’s hard,” Caplea expressed prior to Houston’s match against the Denver Nuggets.
The recent attacks were the bloodiest and deadliest to hit Paris since World War II. It is also the second attack in the French capital to hog worldwide headlines, the first being the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 7. At least 120 people perished in the attacks, including shootings at restaurants and the hostage-taking at the music venue, Bataclan.
Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, meanwhile, also expressed his deepest sympathies after the Cleveland Cavaliers romped off with the win against the New York Knicks at the Madison Square Garden.
“My prayers and condolences go out to every family that’s been affected by what happened,” James expressed. “Our world right now is having so many different tragedies. So many different innocent people and victims are losing lives over nonsense.”