Lining the players’ sideline and wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, players from the Jazz and Pelicans locked arms and kneeled during the national anthem played before the first NBA game of the restart in Orlando.
It was a powerful moment.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 30, 2020
The team coaches and referees also kneeled.
The Lakers and Clippers did the exact same thing before their opening night game.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 31, 2020
Expect that to be echoed through the rest of the games in the bubble. The players want to present a unified front.
While the league does have a rule saying players should stand during the anthem, Commissioner Adam Silver released this statement to TNT saying he would not enforce the rule.
“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.”
When NBA players committed to being in the bubble, the biggest concern for many was that a return to play — and with it some sense of normalcy — would be a distraction from the Black Lives Matter and social justice movements. Players in the bubble have made a point of talking about social justice issues when addressing the media and taking other steps not to let the distraction. More than that, they are taking concrete steps big and small to further that cause. The NBA and players union are helping with that.
Taking a knee during the anthem is just one step in a much bigger cause, but it’s an important symbolic one. Well done by both the league and players union.