Adam Silver confirmed that kneeling during the national anthem is against NBA rules, but added that he respects peaceful protest and acknowledged “these are highly unusual times.”
The 2019-20 NBA season returns on Thursday during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the global crisis, the season’s suspension coincided with a period of protest in the United States and then after George Floyd’s death in custody.
The incident brought up the Black Lives Matter movement, with the message to be painted on the ground for the upcoming Florida games.
Here’s the NBA’s reboot bench in Orlando: the spaced seats are the socially distant bench, Black Lives Matter is on the job. pic.twitter.com/XGJu1w4QLC
– Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 21, 2020
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Sports stars around the world then went on to kneel before matches, following NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 demonstration of the national anthem against racial injustice and police brutality. WNBA players preferred to stay in their locker rooms during the national anthem.
Further protests are expected in the NBA, starting with Thursday’s opener between the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz.
But Commissioner Silver understands his players’ desire to take a stand.
“The NBA has a line in its books that preceded David Stern, who stood for the national anthem,” Silver told Good Morning America on ABC. “That said, I respect peaceful protest. I’m not sure what our players will do if they come out tomorrow night and we will tackle it at the time, of course, but I also understand that these are highly unusual times.”
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The NBA rule for the national anthem can be found in the competition rules:
Players, coaches and trainers should stand in dignity along the foul lines while playing the US and / or Canadian folk songs.
Silver acknowledges that such demonstrations are especially important in the NBA, a predominantly black league, where it was revealed that Floyd’s death almost ended the season.
“It is part of our history. I see it as part of the DNA of this competition, ”he said. “You think of Bill Russell and some of the early players, their activism over the years. Now there comes a problem like killing George Floyd and you have a league, in the case of the NBA, which is about 80% black – similar to the WNBA These are issues in terms of racial inequalities in society that are close to their heart exactly when we made plans to relaunch the season was the death of George Floyd.
“It honestly almost kept us from relaunching the season, given the turmoil and how emotional people were in the league – and across the country, by the way. It was very important when we got together to think about what we could do to use this platform to influence change, the reporting is only part of it, but the images show that the court says Black Lives Matter on the floor, and the players are wearing messages on their jerseys. we teamed up with the 30 NBA teams at a foundation dedicated to economic empowerment specifically targeting black Americans. This has been part of the competition forever. “