NBA players kneel during national anthem at season reopening

Commissioner Adam Silver stated that he would not force players to stand during the anthem

Members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz kneel before a Black Lives Matter logo before the start of their game. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

At the season reopening of the NBA, every player of the New Orleans Pelicans and the Utah Jazz, joined by coaches, and game officials kneeled during the national anthem. 

Dressed in Black Lives Matter shirts, the players’ act of protest was repeated by The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers who also kneeled before their game. 

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Commissioner Adam Silver stated that he would not force players to stand during the anthem. “I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem.” 

Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – JULY 30: Members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz kneel before a Black Lives Matter logo before the start of their game.
(Photo by Pool/Getty Images)

Some game jerseys were adorned with messages like, “Ally,” “Say Her Name,” and “Equality,” instead of players’ names. 

Both the Pelicans and Jazz issued statements supporting the protests. The organizations encourage their players’ rights to “exercise their First Amendment rights, and use their voices, their experiences, and their platforms to peacefully express themselves.”

The return to sports after the national lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has seen many demonstrations honoring African Americans who have been killed by police this year. The WNBA began its season last week and dedicated the season to Breonna Taylor and the “Say Her Name” campaign. 

Players in the Major League Baseball league also took a knee before the playing of the National Anthem. 

The NBA shut down on March 11 when Utah Jazz center, Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. It was Gobert who hit the first basket as the season returned and the Jazz won 106-104. 

“Life works in mysterious ways,” Gobert said. “I’m just happy, blessed to be able to be back on the court, to do what I love to do, to be back out there with my teammates and try to win a game.” 

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