NBA icon Michael Jordan decried "ingrained racism" in America Sunday as the sports world's reaction to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd leapt leagues and continents.

"I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry," Jordan said in a statement Sunday, as protests over Floyd's death on 25 May spawned violence and looting.

"I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country.

"We have had enough," said Jordan, who was famously reluctant to comment on social issues during his playing career.

Floyd died on 25 May after a white policeman in Minneapolis had held his knee on the handcuffed man's neck for several minutes.

"We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability," Jordan said.


Jordan joined a chorus of voices from the NBA, NFL and other US sports demanding change for black Americans, but the demands weren't limited to the United States.

French footballer Marcus Thuram and England international Jadon Sancho called for justice for Floyd after scoring in Germany's Bundesliga.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent an internal memo to NBA employees on Sunday that said the league shares "the outrage" that has followed the death of Floyd -- which comes in the wake of the police killing in Kentucky of emergency health worker Breonna Taylor in her home, and the fatal shooting of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

"Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored," Silver said. 

With US pro sports on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, American athletes had no chance to demonstrate on the field of play.

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris were among a number of NBA players who took part in demonstrations over the weekend.

Brown drove 15 hours to lead a peaceful protest march in Atlanta, Georgia.

"First and foremost, I'm a black man and I'm a member of this community," the Georgia native said.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, himself the son of a policeman, said that as violence escalated it was imperative to keep Floyd's death at the forefront.

"The response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making," Rivers said in a statement. "Too often, people rush to judge the response, instead of the actions that prompted it."