Jazz and Pelicans kneel during national anthem before NBA game
July 30, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; Members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz kneel together around the Black Lives Matter logo on the court during the national anthem before the start of an NBA basketball game. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans joined the Utah Jazz as well as coaches and officials on the court in Orlando Thursday evening in taking a knee during the national anthem. It was a sight to behold.

While the protest focusing on racial equality in the United States was not a surprise, it was a jarring moment as the NBA restarted its season after a four-plus month hiatus.

Pelicans release statement after national anthem protests

β€œThe New Orleans Pelicans stand by the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest. Collectively with the Utah Jazz, our organization joins the NBA in supporting our players and coaches,” the Pelicans said, via their official website. “To promote meaningful change relative to social justice and racial equality, the New Orleans Pelicans have partnered with our players, staff and coaches to create a Social Justice Leadership Alliance committed to furthering the discussion, listening and learning and taking action to make positive change in our community and our country.”

The Jazz themselves followed suit.

There’s certainly going to be a debate regarding this form of protest. That’s been the case since the Colin Kaepernick-led protests were initiated back in 2016. That’s also fine given that we live in the United States. Debate is good. The anthem means different things to different people.

National anthem protests in sports

This protest came one week after the Major League Baseball season opened with players taking a knee ahead of the national anthem being played.

In Orlando, where the NBA season is being held, the Major League Soccer campaign opened with players also taking a knee during the anthem.