LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers, as well as Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans, knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
It was the first protest during the national anthem, as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to play for Star Stretch in the 1990s when he played for the Denver Nuggets.
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On their knees, players followed the precedent set by free agent NFL-four Colin Copernicus, who launched a fire attack in 2016 as he sat and knelt during the national anthem.
James said after the game, “I hope we made Kap proud,”; USA Today reports.
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“Kap was someone who got up when times were not comfortable,” James added, according to Sentinel in Los Angeles. “When people didn’t understand … it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag, he explained it, and people never listened. I did! We just thank him for sacrificing everything he did.”
Players, coaches and referees have violated an old rule that has been in place in the NBA since the 1980s, requiring players to play for the national anthem. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared in support of the peaceful protest of the players. He made the statement after a protest by jazz and pelicans before the game.
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“I respect the only act of peaceful protest by our teams for social justice and in these unique circumstances will not comply with our old rule, which requires standing during the performance of our national anthem,” Silver said, according to The New York Times.