As the recent national anthem protests from NFL players kneeling intensifies, the NBA is making sure it doen’t get involved in the same controversy.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday, Sept. 28, at a live press conference that he expected players to stand during the national anthem.
“It’s been a rule as long as I’ve been involved with the league, and my expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem,” he said at the board of governors meeting on Sept. 28.
“It’s my hope that our players will continue to use that as a moment of unity,” he added.
Silver said NBA players understand how divisive the kneeling protests are, as the NFL players political activism alienated many of their fans.
“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” Silver said.
The commissioner said the playing of the national anthem has traditionally always been a time for respect and reflection, recalling how many teams locked arms while standing last season.
Silver wants players to continue to show unity during the anthem, and do it standing. The NBA actually has a rule stating that players coaches and trainers must stand.
“Players, coaches, and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem” the rulebook states.
But Silver did not address what would happen if any players do refuse to stand.
“If that were to happen, we’ll deal with it when it happens” he added.
Instead, Silver thinks NBA players should use other opportunities, to make their voices heard.
“I’m hoping once again that this league can play a constructive role there,” Silver added.
The full press conference can be seen below.
Just recently the women’s NBA (WNBA) took criticism after an entire team walked out during the anthem to stay in their locker room.
During the first game of the finals on Sunday, Sept. 24, the LA Sparks refused to stay on court during the national anthem and instead walked off to stay in their locker room.
Their opponents, the Minnesota Lynx stayed on court but stood linking arms.
Below was the scene on court at the time.
The scene at Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. The Lynx link arms during the anthem, the Sparks stay in the locker room. pic.twitter.com/jckFULAvux
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) September 24, 2017
The spectators’ reaction to the Sparks was clear. They were booed as they walked off the court during the anthem, and were booed again when they came back onto the court.
Lindsey Thiry, a sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times posted a video on Twitter showing the crowd’s reaction as the Sparks returned to court.
Sparks booed as they retake the floor after the singing of the national anthem in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/upZTj4bDMb
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) September 27, 2017