The NBA rules on kneeling as a form of protest.
On Friday, all teams in the NBA were sent a memo reminding them that all players were expected to stand during the National Anthem at the start of every game. The memo, addressed by Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum was sent as a means of bolstering the message relayed by Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday, during a press conference in which he addressed the topic and act of kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of protest.
"It’s disheartening to me to see so much disunity in our society. I think that sports, historically, and the NBA in particular, has been a unifying force,” Silver said after the NBA’s board of governors’ meeting. “There’s always been a disagreement in society. Sports arenas have been put in places where people from all walks of life can come together and for a common experience. When it comes to political disagreements, I would hope that we, together with our players, can play a constructive role in bringing people together.”
In the memo, Tatum states that no individual team has the right to waive the rule that dictates that players are to line up and stand in a “diginified position” during the National Anthem, with any act of doing the opposite resulting in an unspecified corrective action. The memo, instead suggest that teams address the nation’s political climate by allowing players or coaches to speak ahead of the game to deliver a “message of unity” on “how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season,” or a video announcement that features “team leadership speaking about the issues they care about.”
“We have a rule that requires our players to stand or our anthem. It’s been our rule as long as I have been involved with the league. My expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem,” Silver added on Thursday. “… Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem. And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now."
This memo arrives on the heels of boiling tensions following last week’s debacle that included the President of the United States, Donald Trump, referring to NFL players who kneel during the anthem as a form of protest as “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The result was a slew of protests across the league during Sunday’s [September 24] matchups with players kneeling or locking arms in protest of the president’s remarks.
The NBA’s counterparts in the form of the WNBA also stood in solidarity during Sunday’s Game 1 of the WNBA Finals between the Minnesota Linx and Los Angeles Sparks.
The league preseason kicks off Saturday night [September 30th] as the the Minnesota Timberwolves team up against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets take on Golden State’s Warriors, who themselves in the middle of last week’s spectacle as well after President Trump rescinded an invitation to the White House from the 2017 NBA Champions after a perceived hesitation from Steph Curry a day after the point guard declared that he wouldn’t be visiting the White House on account of a moral decision.
As the preseason and subsequent regular seasong get underway it will be interesting to see how players handle this issue. When questioned on what they’d be doing, players on the New York Knicks, who take on Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday [October 3rd] would not give a definite answer on whether or not they would go against the NBA mandate.
"Whatever we do, we’re gonna do it as a team,” said forward Lance Thomas. “I’m gonna speak to my teammates and see what we come up with.”