Shortly before the tip on Thursday evening, the players, which included coaches and game officers, all knelt down.
The players wore black “Black Lives Matter” shirts both during the warm-up and during the national anthem.
On game jerseys, players’ names have been replaced with messages such as “Equality”, “I am a man”, “Ally” and “Say their name” to send a clear message in support of the social justice movement.
After the moment, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he would not force the players to stand during the anthem.
“I respect the unified act of peaceful protest by our social justice teams and, under these unique circumstances, will not enforce our longstanding rule of standing while playing our national anthem.”
The New Orleans Pelicans said in a statement that the team was committed to the “ideals of freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest”.
“Together with the Utah Jazz, our organization, together with the NBA, supports our players and coaches. To promote significant changes in social justice and racial equality, the New Orleans Pelicans have teamed up with our players, staff and coaches to provide leadership for Creating social justice The alliance is committed to driving the discussion forward, listening and learning, and taking action to bring about positive changes in our community and country, “it said.
The jazz team said the team was “determined to promote social justice and help players, coaches and staff exercise their First Amendment rights and use their voices, experiences and platforms to express themselves peacefully”.
Demonstrations in all sports leagues
The NBA is not the first division to start its season with players kneeling to support the movement.
When the league started its season last week, the WNBA dedicated the Breonna Taylor season and the Say Her Name campaign. Outside of basketball, many MLB players also pulled their knees when their season resumed earlier this month.
All of these demonstrations take place amid riots in the United States over the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and mirror Colin Kaepernick’s during the 2016-17 NFL season.
The NBA returned after a 20-week break in a bubble in Orlando, Florida.
The league was closed on March 11, when – just before Utah Jazz in Oklahoma City competed against the Thunder – it became known that the Rudy Gobert jazz center had tested positive for Covid-19.
On Thursday evening, when the game resumed, it was appropriate for Gobert to score the first basket in a layup.