New York Knicks center Enes Kanter joined his teammates in locking arms during the national anthem before Tuesday's 115-107 preseason loss to the Brooklyn Nets, but he told reporters Wednesday he would've opted for a different tactic if left to his own devices.
"If they would've left it up to me, yes, I would've taken a knee," he said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. "But as a team, we decided not to take a knee. The most important thing in America is equality and justice. If you don't see these two things in America, I feel really bad, I feel really sad inside."
The Knicks players released a statement about their decision to stand with arms locked:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week league rules mandate players stand for the national anthem and that he expects the rule to be followed.
Many NFL players have followed in the footsteps of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and protested during the national anthem. Kaepernick said in August 2016 he wanted to raise awareness toward police brutality and racial injustice.
Kanter has been outspoken about social issues, especially regarding Turkey, where he spent most of his childhood before moving to the United States.
Kanter's willingness to be outspoken has come at a cost. His family disowned him for his criticism toward Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a Turkish newspaper reported the government issued a warrant for his arrest in May 2017. Kanter previously tweeted he was stranded at a Romanian airport because the Turkish embassy had canceled his passport:
Enes Kanter @Enes_Kanter
I'm being held at Romanian airport by Police!! https://t.co/uYZMBqKx542017-5-20 13:20:34
In June, Kanter wrote in a statement on his official site that Turkish authorities had arrested his father, Mehmet, "because of my outspoken criticism of the ruling party."
Kanter isn't a U.S. citizen, though he said in May that he'd pursue the opportunity to become naturalized.