Athletes Are Ready to Stand Up, But The NBA’s Anti-Protest Policy Is Shackling Players

Athletes Are Ready to Stand Up, But The NBA’s Anti-Protest Policy Is Shackling Players

As we’ve mentioned before, the NBA currently has rules against protesting during the national anthem. At the beginning of the season, they sent out a memo reminding the players that they will be heavily penalized if they break those rules.

Luckily, that hasn’t stop people from coming up with their own ways to protests. For instance, last season, the Portland Trail Blazers formed a “circle of unity” during the national anthem and said they will continue to do so in future games. Unfortunately, it seems like they’ve stopped doing it this year, and they’re not alone. In general, it seems like players are being far more passive in their statements.

Here are some of the ways that players and coaches have chosen to speak out so far this season:
  • Oct 17: Lebron James debuted his “equality” shoes during the season opener, and locked arms with his teammates during the anthem. This was as close to a statement as he could get within the current regulatory framework. Since then, Nike releases his new shoes, and the colorway on the “statement” edition seems quite reminiscent of his “equality” sneakers.
  • Oct 21: A guest vocalist took a knee while singing the national anthem before a Brooklyn Nets game.
  • Nov. 11: Steph Curry wrote a Veterans Day piece for The Players Tribune explaining that the anthem protests were not anti-military; but rather, existed because “in 2017, in America, silence is no longer an option”.
  • Nov. 14: Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy wrote a letter for TIME in which he called the protesting NFL players “patriotic”. He wrote: Many have tried to paint these athletes and coaches as villains in an effort to obscure their message… Nationalism, he said, is supporting your country no matter what, right or wrong. Patriotism, on the other hand, is caring so deeply about your country that you take it as your duty to hold it accountable”.
  • Nov. 15: Fox Sports reports that the Players Union is working with the league to address player protesting in a way that works for each group. Unfortunately, they have yet to find a solution.
  • Nov. 25: Steve Kerr went on”The Axe Filespodcast and explained why the Warriors decided not to visit the White House this offseason. Kerr told Axelrod:

    “I’ve been lucky to visit the White House with, I think, four different presidents, President Reagan, President Clinton, both President Bushes… With all of those presidents that I mentioned, they were all above reproach in terms of their respect for their fellow man, and their respect for the office. And I don’t think any of us see that right now… He can make fun of handicapped people, he can, you know, he can say a lot of, you know, nasty things, ugly things, whether it’s about women or whomever… [It’s] difficult to just say all right, we’ll put that aside and go visit and shake his hand.”

There’s been a lot of press, but not much action; in many ways, it seems like last year, players were willing to be more vocal. Part of that is because of NBA memo’s warning teams and players that they cannot protest. With the NBA’s reputation as one of the more liberal sports leagues in the country, it’s really a shame there aren’t more dates on this list.
Of course, if the players or teams decide to work together, there’s very little the league can do to curtail their actions. The season has just begun and there’s still time for players to make a stand…
[Photo from NBC, courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers]

One Response to "Athletes Are Ready to Stand Up, But The NBA’s Anti-Protest Policy Is Shackling Players"

  1. BETTY ELLIOTT   Saturday, November 25th, 2017 at 6:32 pm