NBA Players Will Not Continue National Anthem Protests

Ford Springer | Contributor

The NBA season starts Tuesday night when the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers take to the court against the New York Knicks. Before the game begins, the players will all stand for the national anthem because they believe in “action over symbolism.”

The NFL season began with talk of Colin Kaepernick’s polarizing national anthem protest that he began in the pre-season. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback proclaimed he wouldn’t stand for a flag in protest of racial injustice in America. NBA players, coaches and even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver say they are beyond all that.

The New York Knicks pause for the national anthem prior to the their preseason game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The New York Knicks pause for the national anthem prior to the their preseason game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

“I’m past gestures,” New York Knicks guard Carmelo Anthony told Bleacher Report. “I’m past that. It’s all about creating things now and putting things in motion.”

“So, that’s what I’m on,” Anthony continued. “I’m trying to get guys on board with that and help them understand that–enough of the gesturing and talking and all of that stuff — we need to start putting things in place.”

While Kaepernick continues to kneel during the national anthem, the discussion surrounding his controversial protesting methods have mostly subsided. Players across the NBA are not surprised, and although they don’t mean to discredit the quarterback’s intentions, they know active engagement is stronger than simply starting a dialogue.

Kaepernick was moved to protest in response to increased media attention to police shootings of African Americans. About a month before he decided to take a knee, Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul delivered a powerful speech at the ESPY Awards “focused squarely on police killings.”

NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speak onstage during the 2016 ESPYS. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speak onstage during the 2016 ESPYS. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Back in 2012, James and Wade led the Miami Heat in stand of support, not protest, in response to the death of Trayvon Martin who was killed by a neighborhood watch coordinator.

“I just don’t think the gesturing is creating anything,” Anthony told Bleacher Report. “I think it’s bringing awareness, but I think doing stuff and creating awareness in the communities [is more effective].”

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agree with Anthony, according to Bleacher Report. Last month, they “sent a joint letter to players, pledging meaningful action,” to address the shootings and social unrest that has come as a result in some areas.

The United States Men's National Basketball Team stands together during the playing of the National Anthem prior to playing the China Men's National Team. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The United States Men’s National Basketball Team stands together during the playing of the National Anthem prior to playing the China Men’s National Team. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Over the past few months, teams and players across the NBA have been engaging in activities to “help bridge the divide between police and communities across the country,” as described in the Bleacher Report magazine article.

NBA hall of famer turned broadcaster Charles Barkley echoed the feeling of the current NBA stars views on action versus symbolic gestures.

“Everybody’s engaged already,” Barkley told Bleacher Report. “Everybody’s talking about it and know about it. I’m just a bit more big on action. Once you get off your knee, like, ‘OK, what are you doing?’ Because football season is going to be over soon,” Barkely continued. “And the question is: How long do you do it? When is it over?’”

“It’s too late for symbolic,” he concluded. “You gotta actually do something.”

Ford Springer

Contributor

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