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Sports

Lone NBA Player Stands for Anthem While Both Teams Kneel

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The NBA’s Boston Celtics and Miami Heat played on Wednesday hours after a pro-Trump protest at the Capitol in Washington resulted in some people forcing their way into the building, but only one player from either team stood for the national anthem.

The game was in doubt for a number of minutes apparently over the incursion in D.C. when the players walked off of the court and held a meeting, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

The teams eventually returned and issued a joint statement condemning the events in Washington. They also decried the decision of prosecutors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, not to pursue charges against police officers involved in the August 2020 shooting of Jacob Blake, who prosecutors said was armed with a knife.

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The Celtics and Heat also claimed those who participated in the mayhem in Washington were given special treatment by police, making no mention of a woman who was shot and killed after storming the building.

“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on. The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do,” the statement read.

“We have decided to play tonight’s game to try to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal & just America,” it concluded.

The teams eventually made their way back onto the court, but when “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, only one player stood.

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Heat center Meyers Leonard stood with his hand over his heart as the national anthem played. The 7-footer later issued a statement on social media.

“I STAND… I STAND FOR the men and women, like my brother who have served this country. I STAND AGAINST the violence and riots in DC. I STAND in solidarity with my teammates and brothers,” he wrote.

“I STAND AGAINST bigotry, racism, and hate,” Leonard added.

Leonard, in a follow-up post, added, “I STAND FOR HOPE that our country can one day stop using our differences to divide us and SEE how our HEARTS can unite us. I STAND WITH LOVE in my heart for EVERYONE.”

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Leonard has been the lone player to stand on the court during the anthem. When the NBA resumed play last summer after the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, he stood for the anthem while wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.

“I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country,” he told the Associated Press in August. “I can’t fully comprehend how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into black and white. There’s a line in the sand, so to speak: ‘If you’re not kneeling, you’re not with us.’ And that’s not true.”

Leonard was the only player to stand for the anthem when the NBA Finals tipped off in September.

While being the only player to refrain from kneeling, he was joined in standing by NBA official Kane Fitzgerald.

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Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor and a producer in radio, television and digital media. He is a proud husband and father.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.




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