NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during the NBA All-Star Game
Feb 14, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver looks on during the NBA All Star-Celebrity Game at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

It’s great to have NBA basketball back after a four-plus month hiatus. Just ask New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson. Though, there’s also a dramatic backdrop to all of this.

Ahead of the Pelicans and Utah Jazz restarting the season Thursday evening at Walt Disney World in Orlando, personnel for both teams took a knee in protest during the national anthem. It’s rather interesting in that the NBA had enacted a rule decades ago that required players to stand for the anthem. Not so much anymore.

Adam Silver says league will not require players to stand for the national anthem

“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” Silver said, via ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

Silver himself has changed his tune in 2020.

“It’s been a rule as long as I’ve been involved with the league, and my expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem,” Silver said back in 2017, via ESPN.

Things have obviously changed in the near three years since that statement. Following the murder of George Floyd back on May 25 and the Breonna Taylor killing months before that, the Black Lives Matter movement is back at the forefront. We’ve seen protests in other sports. It will continue to be a theme.

  • NFL: Multiple star players around the gridiron world have indicated that they will kneel during the anthem this coming season. Remember, said protests were initiated by then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick years back.
  • NASCAR: Star driver Bubba Wallace took a knee and wore drove a Black Lives Matter-themed car during a race earlier this summer.

We can expect this to continue as the NBA season takes center state at Walt Disney World in Orlando moving forward.