Adam Silver Comments on Potential National Anthem Protests in NBA

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 21, 2016

Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during the NBA All Star Saturday Night at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hopes to see players from all 30 teams standing for the national anthem when the regular season begins next week.  

Speaking at the NBA board of governors meeting, per ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk, Silver did not condemn anyone who may want to take a knee during the anthem, but he is hopeful that won't happen:

I don't know if the players are organizing anything. All I can say is what we have seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem. It would be my hope that they continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.

Silver said the NBA may be the organization in best position to significantly impact the U.S. social climate:

There may be no organization in our society better positioned than the NBA and its players to try and have an impact on these difficult issues plaguing many of our cities. So aside from discussions around the anthem, it is my expectation that as we move beyond the collective bargaining [negotiating] process, that we and the players together will continue to address these issues and look for opportunities where we can really make a difference.

The NBA is the best sports organization in the United States as far as diversity hiring goes. Per the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, via Terrance Harris of the Associated Press (h/t NBA.com), the league received an A-plus for racial hiring, a B for gender-hiring practices and an overall grade of A. 

In addition, some of the NBA's biggest stars—LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul—made a call for their fellow athletes to be more engaged in promoting social change during an appearance at this year's ESPY Awards. 

Silver discussed those comments and how it helped spring the NBA into action:

Before there were issues around the anthem, I happened to be at the ESPYs this year when our four players stood up and made their point about the need for us to come together and work in our communities, and we have tried to build on their challenge ... to see what impact that we can have, what they can have as individual athletes and how we can contribute to that as the league together with our teams. I think we are making progress.

Silver also said the NBA remains in discussions with the players about finding ways to take meaningful action in communities that allow them to build trust and help address racial and economic injustice throughout the country. 

The national anthem has taken center stage in sports as some NFL players continue to stage their own protests. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick brought his protest to the forefront by kneeling before the anthem prior to each regular-season game. 

Kaepernick explained to Sam Wyche of NFL.com that he "was not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

The WNBA's Indiana Fever locked arms and knelt down during the national anthem before a game on September 21. 

Youngmisuk noted several NBA teams have shown solidarity during the national anthem this preseason by standing and interlocking arms. There have not been any reported incidents of players taking a knee, though they could change their tune when the regular season tips off Tuesday. 

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