LeBron James and his partner in the Los Angeles Lakers, along with the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans, knelt during the national anthem Thursday to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
This was the first protest during the national anthem since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to settle for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 1990s, when he was playing for the Denver Nuggets.
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On his knees, the players followed a precedent set by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s free agent, who started a storm in 2016 when he sat down and joined during the national anthem.
James said after the game, “I hope we made Head proud,”; according to USA Today.
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“Chief was someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable,” James added, according to the Los Angeles Sentinel. “When people didn’t understand … he had absolutely nothing to do with the flag he explained to people and they never heard. Me! We just thank him for sacrificing everything he did.”
Players, coaches and referees have broken a rule that has been in place in the NBA since the 1980s, and it required players to stand for the national anthem. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared to support a peaceful protest of the players. He made a statement after the Jazz and Pelicans protest before their game.
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“I respect the unified act of peaceful protest of our teams for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule while playing our national anthem,” Silver said, according to the New York Times.