LeBron James and his team-mates from Los Angeles Lakers as well as players from Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans knelt during the national anthem on Thursday to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
It was the first protest during the national anthem since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 1990s when he played for the Denver Nuggets.
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When kneeling, players followed a precedent set by free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who triggered a firestorm in 2016 when he sat and knelt during the national anthem.
James said after the game, “I hope we made Cape proud,” said USA Today.
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“Cape was someone who got up when times weren’t pleasant,” James added to the Los Angeles Sentinel. “When people didn’t understand … it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag, he explained and people never listened. I did! We just thank him for sacrificing everything he did. “
The players, coaches, and referees have violated a longstanding rule that has been in the NBA since the 1980s that compelled players to stand for the national anthem. NBA commissioner Adam Silver appeared to support the peaceful protest by the players. He made a statement after the jazz and pelicans protested before their game.
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“I respect the unified act of peaceful protest by our social justice teams and in these unique circumstances will not enforce our longstanding rule of standing while playing our national anthem,” said Silver, the New York Times said.