Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a seat (and then knee) during the National Anthem has led to a growing number of football players demonstrating in some form or fashion. The number is growing slowly, but one question in my head has been what will happen with other sports, particularly once the NFL season comes to an end.
The NBA has had its share of player demonstrations in recent years related to the social justice issues Kaepernick has raised, and it would make sense for that league to join in with NFL players. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had a pre-training camp media session to discuss the Golden State Warriors’ offseason, the addition of Kevin Durant, and the upcoming season. In the second half of the transcript, Kerr answered questions about Kaepernick’s protest and social activism. He specifically asked him if he had spoken with his players about it, and if any action was up to them.
Here is what Kerr had to say (full transcript via Tim Kawakami):
I’ve talked to several of our guys about it. And I think we will absolutely talk about it as a team before our first game. I’ve talked to some of the guys, just what do you think? What does it mean to you? I’ve kind of given them my opinion, we’ve shared thoughts.
It’s kind of the way we do things around here anyway. We like to talk about stuff, basketball or not. And I think it’s probably one of the best things that’s come out of the Kaepernick issue, is that people are talking. It’s a good thing.
No matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, I would hope that every American is disgusted with what is going on around the country, what just happened in Tulsa two days ago, Terence Crutcher ... Doesn’t matter what side you’re on in the Kaepernick stuff, you’d better be disgusted with the things that are happening.
So I understand people who are offended by his stance–maybe they have a military family members who is offended or maybe they lost somebody in a war and that flag or the anthem means a lot more to them than someone else.
But you flip it around and what about non-violent protest? That’s America, this is what our country is about, it’s non-violent protest. It’s what it should be about.
I think Colin has really clarified his message over the last couple weeks. I would think that something similar will happen in the NBA. And as I said, nobody has to be right, nobody has to be wrong. I would hope that everybody sort of respects each other’s point of view, there are valid points of view on both sides.
But as I said, I think Colin when he met with Nate Boyer, decided to kneel instead of sit, acknowledged his respect for the military and really clarified the message that what this is really about is unarmed black people being killed indiscriminately around the country… and then it happens again two days ago…
That’s the message. That’s what matters. And the other stuff, they can talk about all day, nobody’s right, nobody’s wrong. But that matters. And everybody should be trying to do something, whatever’s in their power, to help in that regard.
Kerr said he has spoken with players, and they will discuss it further before the first game of the season. He thinks something similar will happen in the NBA, but he feels the most important thing to come out of this is the discussions that are taking place. We’ve heard about numerous locker rooms discussing the protest and the issues involved. It has led to teams like the Seattle Seahawks linking arms in solidarity. It has led to players taking knees or raising their fists, with support from their teammates and a team owner.
As the NBA season prepares to tip off, this will likely see a new surge. The Warriors start their preseason on October 1, and their regular season on October 25. The Warriors will be one of the most scrutinized teams of all time. Las Vegas has set their win total at 66.5. If they went OVER, that would be one of the 13 best seasons of all time. People will be watching this team, and if they have any sort of demonstration in their season opener, it’s going to get some publicity.
The NBA and NBPA recognize this, and recently sent a letter out to players discussing what has been going on. It is an interesting ready: