Report: Referees to Join NBA Players in Kneeling During National Anthem

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2020

FILE - In this July 25, 2020, file photo, official Michael Price uses a covered whistle during the second half of a WNBA basketball game between the Washington Mystics and Indiana Fever in Bradenton, Fla. In the pro sports restart, referees are covering their whistles with baggies to prevent spittle from escaping during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

NBA referees assigned to games for the league's restart will join players and coaches in kneeling around the "Black Lives Matter" sign on the court during the playing of the national anthem.

Chris Haynesย of Yahoo Sports reported referees had a "spirited" discussion about whether to participate before deciding to support the players and coaches in their protest against systemic racism.

Players on the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz will demonstrate before their game, which opens the NBA restart, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers will likewise kneel during the anthem later Thursday. Some players on all four teams have chosen not to kneel, while others are still weighing their decisions, according to Haynes.

The NBA will not punish players for peaceful protests, even though league has a longstanding rule saying players must stand for the anthem.

"I respect peaceful protest. I'm not sure what our players will do when they come out tomorrow night, and we'll of course address it at the time, but I also understand these are highly unusual times," Silver said Wednesday onย Good Morning America.

The NBA suspended Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996ย when he refused to stand for the anthem.