Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr remarked on the beginning of the NBA’s restarted season Friday and the players’ and coaches’ decisions to kneel during the national anthem.
Kerr tweeted that he was preparing for comments about players kneeling and those who have the opinion that it is disrespectful to kneel while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is playing.
“With NBA games now in full force, the inevitable race baiting ‘kneeling is a sign of disrespect!’ tweets are coming. Our message is clear: We love our country. And we also believe that this nation can and must do better to eliminate racism and bigotry. That is why we kneel,” the NBA champion tweeted.
LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates, along with Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans players, knelt during the national anthem Thursday to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
Silver released a statement to The New York Times moments after the Pelicans and Jazz players and coaches knelt during the anthem on Thursday.
“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” Silver said.
While NBA players in this generation have a history of speaking out on social justice issues, no player has taken a knee during the anthem. The NBA has a rule, which dates back to 1981, requiring players to stand for the anthem, according to NBC Sports.
The police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 appeared to change leagues’ stances on supporting social justice initiatives. So much so, the league allowed players to pick a pre-approved message to wear on the back of their jersey for the restarted season.