Sources – Pelicans, Jazz discussing plan to kneel around Black Lives Matter sign during anthem
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz are discussing a plan to surround the Black Lives Matter signage on the Wide World of Sports arena court and kneel together during the playing of the national anthem on Thursday, league sources told ESPN.
The Pelicans-Jazz game is the first of the NBA restart.
Instead of having two groups protest separately, the Pelicans and Jazz are adamant that they want to display a united front, sources said. The coaches are expected to join the players in the demonstration.
League officials are not expected to enforce a 1981 anthem policy that says “players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line.”
Even before traveling to Orlando, Florida, players insisted that they do not want playing games to distract from the fight for social justice that has grown louder in the wake of George’s Floyd’s death. Floyd, a Black man, was killed when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than seven minutes.
Since arriving in the NBA “bubble,” players have used virtual media availabilities to call for justice for victims of police brutality and racism and to encourage fans to vote.
Other teams also are expected to protest during the playing of the anthem.
“The NBA has had a rule on its books that preceded David Stern, which was standing for the national anthem. Having said that, I respect peaceful protest,” commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I’m not sure what our players will do when they come out tomorrow night. We’ll of course address it at the time, but I also understand these are highly unusual times.”