In the NBA, secrets don’t exist. The streets talk.
So despite the best efforts of players for the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz to keep things quiet, the word on the street is that the two teams will join forces to peacefully protest during the national anthem when the NBA season officially resumes on Thursday.
From Malika Andrews of ESPN:
The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz are discussing a plan to surround the Black Lives Matter signage on the Wide World of Sports arena court and kneel together during the playing of the national anthem on Thursday, league sources told ESPN.
Instead of having two groups protest separately, the Pelicans and Jazz are adamant that they want to display a united front, sources said. The coaches are expected to join the players in the demonstration.
Last weekend, during the WNBA’s much-anticipated restart, not only were we treated to powerful speeches from New York Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon and Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart, but both teams walked off the court prior to the national anthem being played.
While I don’t expect to see anything near as brazen in the NBA, it’s clear that something is about to go down, despite the fact that the league has a policy in place that requires “players, coaches and trainers to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line” during the national anthem, per ESPN.
As to whether or not that rule will be enforced remains to be seen, but during an interview Wednesday morning on Good Morning America, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made it abundantly clear that players shouldn’t expect any pushback from him.
“I respect peaceful protest,” he said, adding, “I’m not sure what our players will do when they come out tomorrow night and we’ll, of course, address it at the time. But I also understand these are highly unusual times.”
That they are.
To that end, CBS News conducted a poll and nearly 60 percent of Americans believe that kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequities is an acceptable form of protest. Those percentages get even more interesting when they’re broken down by race and political affiliation, with 88 percent of Black folks, 62 percent of the Latinx community and 88 percent of Democrats down with the cause, while 52 percent of white folks and 77 percent of Republicans are off somewhere throwing a temper tantrum.
They’re just gonna have to be big mad on Thursday. But trust and believe I’ll have my popcorn ready for whatever it is that the Pelicans and Jazz have planned.