NBA players and coaches from four teams took to their knees during the national anthem Thursday night in the first set of games since the league ended its season during. The demonstration, inspired by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s free agent, draws attention to racial injustice and police brutality.
In the first game of the restarting season, between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Utah Jazz, players and coaches knelt down during “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Jon Batiste’s bandleader on the national anthem. Team members also wore Black Lives Matter jerseys and locked weapons.
Both the Pelicans and the Jazz issued statements in support of the protests. The Jazz, who won the match 106-104, issued a statement saying the organization stands out with its players, coaches and staff by “exercising their First Amendment rights and using their voices their experiences, and their platforms for expressing themselves peacefully. “
In the next game, players and coaches from the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers knelt together in solidarity as Club Compton Kidz sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
After the Lakers pulled away to beat the Clippers 103-101, LeBron James spoke about the importance of players using their platforms.
“The game of basketball has always been bigger than just the ball and 10 boys on the ground, the referees. It’s an opportunity to use this platform and be able to spread a lot of positive, a lot of love over the course of all over the world., ”James said in his post-match interview on TNT.
“We understand what’s going on in society right now and we’re using this NBA platform – as the players, as the coaches, as the organizations – to continue to be strong on that. It’s good to have the The NBA is back and I hope our fans are proud of us tonight. “
When asked how far he has progressed in the league, James stressed that the players cannot leave them. “Progress has been made, but in the past, when we have seen progress, we have left our foot a little out of gas. We cannot do that.”
“We deal with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality, not just in my neighborhood, not just with Black people, but with people of color. It’s something we want to keep in mind. people. open to. “
Afound that many Americans see their knees during the national anthem to protest racial discrimination as an acceptable form of protest, but there are divisions on political, racial and generational lines.
In the aftermath of, many players participated in the Black of Life protests and expressed the need for social change. Following discussions with the teams, the NBA allowed players to have pre-approved social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys.
James and other players also held their attention, a Black emergency technician who was killed at her home by police executing a drug raid. None of the officers involved in Taylor’s death have been charged.
The Pelicans, Jazz, Lakers and Clippers are among the 22 teams participating in the 2019-2020 season restart at the ESPN Wide Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Each team will play eight seeding matches over the next two weeks to determine their playoff standings.
Justin Carissimo contributed to this report.