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Protests from NBA players: Jazz, Pelicans kneel before national anthem, wear appropriate social justice attire

As expected, the first NBA game in over four months featured players’ pregame demonstrations in support of a nationwide protest movement against the excessive use of police force against black people.

Every member of the Jazz and Pelicans knelt before the national anthem on Thursday night, according to the lead template for US athlete protests that started in the NFL with Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Players from each team also wore messages on their jerseys that supported equality and social improvements. Phrases included “Education Reform”, “Say Their Name” and “Black Lives Matter”. Utah donovan Mitchell also wore “Black Lives Matter” shoes.

MORE: LeBron James decides not to put a message on jersey

Protests in the US started in response to the murder of George Floyd on May 25 by the Minneapolis Police Department, but have continued as part of a wider movement against systemic racism.

Athletes have spoken out more than ever in the recent memory, using their platforms to become activists. The NBA on Thursday joined MLB, NASCAR and Formula 1 as a sport to tackle the Black Lives Matter move ahead of a live event this year.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has generally favored players who take positions on social justice issues, at least during this tumultuous time

MORE: Silver hinted that he was allowed to kneel despite violating NBA rules

Jazz vs. Pelicans marked the first of two games in the Orlando bubble on Thursday to mark the return of the NBA. The Lakers and Clippers play in the second game.

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