The NBA was in the national spotlight this weekend as Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors said he would not visit the White House, which was followed by President Donald Trump announcing the Warriors were no longer invited. The conflict between the President and NBA players quickly grew on social media with LeBron James and others weighing in. As a result, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and many NBA owners released statements in support of the players. Player protests were also in the forefront of the NFL this weekend.
Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé released the following statement:
“I have a deep respect for our nation’s unwavering commitment to free speech and support all Americans’ right to freely express themselves. The President's recent comments are deeply disappointing, because our focus should be on fostering a culture of sensitivity and inclusion. Our mission at the Sacramento Kings has always been to unite our community and use our platform to create positive change, so we continue to stand with our players, and all people, who use their platform to raise awareness and make Sacramento and our country proud.”
It is worth noting that the NBA, unlike the NFL, actually has a rule against protesting during the anthem. The rule was famously enforced against Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996 (Abdul-Rauf continues his protest in the Big 3 league these days). However, the NBA has not enforced the rules in recent years. David West has conducted a silent protest for years without discipline from the league.
The protests of recent years, beginning with Colin Kaepernick’s protest, have been with the intention to raise awareness of the treatment of minorities, and specifically treatment by law enforcement. Those opposed to the protests tend to view this as disrespectful to the flag and members of the military. However, the US Flag code simply cites standing for the anthem as a behavior that should be done. It does not cite failure to stand as part of what is considered disrespectful to the flag. In addition, the act of kneeling is generally recognized as a sign of respect. None of this has stopped the issue from being considered controversial.
It remains to be seen if any Kings players plan on protesting during the anthem. Garrett Temple has been the most outspoken player on social media regarding matters of social justice, but has not announced any intention to protest as of the time of this writing. With Kings media day coming later this afternoon, I’m sure this will be a topic of conversation among Kings players.