When the NBA season returns in Orlando on Thursday night, the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans plan to make a statement to the world by kneeling during the national anthem.
While the NBA has implemented an anthem policy since 1981 that required players to stand during the playing of the anthem, Thursday’s game will mark a monumental moment in the league’s history.
Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans players plan to kneel during national anthem
According to ESPN’s Malika Andrews, the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans have discussed a plan for Thursday’s regular-season return in Orlando. When the national anthem is played, both teams will kneel around the Black Lives Matter signage on the court.
The move would not only be to raise awareness for racial inequality and police brutality in the United States, but to show unity at a time when millions are protesting across the country. In that moment, the coaching staffs for both teams are expected to join them.
While the decision isn’t official, the NBA commissioner Adam Silver has already expressed support for any teams or players who choose to protest before or during the playing of the national anthem.
It’s expected that the Jazz and Pelicans won’t be the only teams to protest during the NBA’s return. The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are among a handful of teams that took part in a meeting to determine how players would unite and peacefully protest against injustices in the United States.
While the NBA could try and enforce its rule and penalize players who don’t stand during the anthem, it might lead to disciplining nearly every player. Given the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement and players using their platform to promote social justice, it seems likely that the old rule will fade into the distance.