The NBA’s return to play Thursday was filled with reports of social justice, including a uniform display of kneeling by Jazz and Pelicans staff during the anthem prior to Game 1. Charles Barkley would have been fine if someone were standing.
“The national anthem means different things to different people,” said Barkley in TNT’s “NBA Tip-Off” show. “I’m glad these guys are all united, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that very clear. ” Barkley added that no one should be ‘slandered’ to stand.
ESPN NBA analyst Jay Williams supported Barkley’s stance on standing:
I strongly support what Charles Barkley just said … if you choose not to kneel before the national anthem, you are NOT a bad person and should NOT be slandered.
– Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) July 30, 2020
Kneeling before the national anthem is against NBA rules, but Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Thursday that the rule would not be enforced, citing “unique circumstances.” Under those circumstances: People across the country have been holding protests in the past two months after George Floyd died on the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. As part of their return to court, NBA players wear messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Their Names” on the back of their shirts.
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And while kneeling and uniform letters are meant to keep race issues in the limelight, Barkley and fellow TNT panelist Shaquille O’Neal said on Thursday that action is also required, such as communicating with lawmakers and other rulers.