One of the biggest stories over the past year that has stretched beyond the realm of sports has been the protests of the national anthem, initiated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The demonstrations caused a lot of controversy throughout the country, with passionate arguments being made for and against the protests. Last year, former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant spoke about the protests and said that he would have also kneeled during the national anthem had he still been playing.
Kobe recently took part in an ESPN special show entitled ‘Dear Black Athlete.’ In an interview with Jemele Hill, Bryant reiterated his stance that he would participate in the protests if he was still an active player, via The Undefeated:
“I would’ve participated in it for sure. I’m sure I would’ve gotten some flak for it, that’s fine. I think Colin’s message was very simple. It was police brutality needs to stop. We need to take a look at that. It’s very hard as a black athlete to simply sit here and say, ‘You know what? We’re comfortable. We made it, we have it made. It’s OK, we don’t need to jump into this thing. It’s too much controversy. We don’t need it.’ Is that the right thing to do? No, it’s not.”
Kobe also praised Kaepernick for being the person to initiate everything:
“I think it gives a sense of urgency. It wasn’t like the issues weren’t there already. When Colin initiated it when he did, it brought a sense of urgency, it’s this call to action, immediacy, that wasn’t there before. It brought it to the national level as something that cannot be ignored anymore. I think it gave a sense of urgency that we need to do something, and we need to do something now.”
The NBA does have a rule prohibiting players from not standing during the anthem, so it would have been interesting to see how they would have dealt with someone like Kobe kneeling as he said he would.
Many teams, including the Lakers, chose to lock arms as a sign of solidarity as opposed to any individual action.
Regardless of whether people agree with the protests, they have brought issues to the national forefront and forced conversations to be had.
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