The NBA has long been used as a platform for players to voice their opinions on global issues. Maybe more so than any other sport, players and teams have taken hold of the opportunity and expressed their support of social and inequality problems.
Earlier this month, the NBA approved a list of social justice messages to be used on the back of jerseys, but some around the league, including Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James, chose not to take part.
James desired more involvement with the process of selecting the jersey messages but still plans to tackle social justice issues as he has done for much of his career. Anthony Davis also passed on including a jersey message, citing loyalty and gratitude to his family name.
However, it appears the Lakers, along with many other teams in Orlando for the NBA restart, have collectively decided to take matters a step further for teh NBA restart, according to the Brad Turner of the L.A. Times:
Sources: NBA players plan to kneel during National Athem on opening nights of season, starting Thurs. Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Raptors, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat staying at same hotel had a meeting. “One of the 1st oncourt actions will be kneeling opening night,” player said.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 24, 2020
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, coaches may kneel as well:
While awaiting the players' final plan surrounding pre-game anthems, several NBA coaches tell @malika_andrews and me that they would also kneel on the court if their teams choose to do so, starting with Thursday’s seeding schedule.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 27, 2020
The NBA has largely been ahead of any other major league in terms of fighting systematic issues, but no players or coaches have knelt for the national anthem since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996. The league’s rulebook states that players must stand for the anthem, a rule that was adopted in 1981.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently said he would evaluate whether or not to enforce the rule if players decided to protest.
The MLS made a statement in their first game back on the pitch, when both sides took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds before kick-off. Every game also begins with a kneel before the whistle is blown. In MLB, many players kneeled during the anthem during opening weekend, the first of whom was L.A. Dodgers star Mookie Betts.
The NBA restart officially tips off on Thursday.
Frank Vogel stresses importance of looking inward to fight issues
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel voiced his opinion on the fight for equality, saying that people must promote change within themselves to grow. Vogel has been pleased with the Lakers’ willingness to do so.
“Our whole organization has really been aggressive with action items,” Vogel said. “I think most notable, hiring Dr. Karida Brown as an educator to come in and assess our organization and make sure we’re creating the right change within our organization.
“I think that’s where this problem needs to be tackled more than anywhere, is for everyone across the country to look within. We want to be very vocal on it.
“I know we’re doing some things with the Coaches Association to keep the conversation going, because we fully, fully, fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. I feel like we as a country have never been in a position of strength to affect change like we’re in right now. It’s a critical time.”
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