The NBA made its return Thursday evening nearly five months after the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, and players signaled they were in unison with regard to embracing political activism on the court.
In two games played from professional basketball’s bubble near Orlando, Florida, the season tipped off again, but the league that’s back isn’t the same one that went into hiatus amid the health crisis that hit hard in March.
The NBA made a spectacle out of the playing of the national anthem, dividing fans when not a single player or coach on four teams, or the officials working the games, stood for the country’s flag and anthem.
But at least one sports analyst was brave enough to comment on the players’ protest of the American flag without kowtowing to the liberal agenda, which allows little dissent on the matter.
TNT NBA analyst and former all-star Charles Barkley reminded his network colleagues that there needs to be a place for people in professional basketball who refuse to kneel for the flag.
“The national anthem means different things to different people,” Barkley said on the air. “I’m glad these [NBA players] are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear.
“I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified,” Barkley concluded.
Charles Barkley on anthem kneeling “If people don’t kneel they’re not a bad person” pic.twitter.com/qeZfjHTUZ4
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) July 30, 2020
— NBA (@NBA) July 30, 2020
Again, not a single player stood for the anthem.
— NBA (@NBA) July 30, 2020
The players on all four teams adorned Black Lives Matter shirts, which matched the slogan painted on the court.
Some players wore activist slogans on their jerseys in place of names.
Some of the squad’s messages to be worn on the back of their jerseys ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/ZCbdz7PGrE
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 30, 2020
Equality throws up an alley-oop to Peace, who slams it home! (Free Hong Kong and Stop The NBA’s Chinese Talent Sweatshop remained on the bench.) https://t.co/smLJoeAckK
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 30, 2020
Lakers star LeBron James commented on the in-game political activism after his team’s game.
James said he hoped the activism made former NFL quarterback and national anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick “proud.”
LeBron James on kneeling during the anthem to protest systemic racism: “I hope we made Kaep proud.” LeBron then explains his gratitude for the military pic.twitter.com/FHYWyD06Hm
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 30, 2020
“What people didn’t understand … [kneeling] had absolutely nothing to do about the flag … [Kaepernick] explained that and people never listened. … I did! … We just thank him for sacrificing everything that he did,” James told the media after the game.
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