The National Basketball Association sent a memo Friday to all 30 teams instructing players to stand for the national anthem. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is seen above
The National Basketball Association sent a memo late Friday to all 30 teams instructing players to stand for the US national anthem, and warning teams there won’t be any exceptions.
The memo, from deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, said the league has the discretion to discipline players who violate a rule already on the books stating that they must stand for the anthem, broadcaster ESPN reported.
The memo tells teams that ‘the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem.’
It adds that individual teams ‘do not have the discretion to waive’ the rule.
In the memo, Tatum suggests that teams make an effort in their first home game to address the current political climate by having players and coaches give a pregame address to their fans.
‘This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season,’ said the memo, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.
The memo tells teams that ‘the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem’. The Golden State Warriors stand at attention during the national anthem before a game on June 12, 2017
Tatum’s memo comes 24 hours after commissioner Adam Silver said at the league’s board of governors meeting in New York that he expects players to stand for the national anthem.
‘We have a rule that requires our players to stand for the anthem,’ Silver said. ‘It has been our rule as long as I have been involved with the league and my expectation is our players will continue to stand for the anthem.’
Last season, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem as a way of protesting racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.
Previously only a handful of players had been taking a knee during the anthem, but on Sunday – two days after President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments directed at players – nearly 200 chose to make their point, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, all of whom remained in the locker room except for one player.
‘On the anthem specifically, we have a rule that requires our players to stand for the anthem. It’s been a rule as long as I’ve been involved with the league, and my expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem,’ Silver told a news conference after the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings.
The NBA is grappling with the fallout from the raging national debate over athletes protesting during the anthem. The Dallas Cowboys are seen above taking a knee before the Star Spangled Banner prior to their game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona, on Monday
‘Last year many of our teams locked arms during the anthem, which I felt was a respectful show of unity. Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem. And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now.
‘It´s disheartening to me to see so much disunity in our society. I think that sports historically, and in the NBA in particular, has been a unifying force,’ said Silver.
‘While there´s always been disagreements in society, sports arenas have been places where people from all walks of life have come together and for a common experience.’
While Silver acknowledged that freedom of expression is a core principle of the United States he said that given the platform NBA players have, whether through engagement with the media or social media, that they have those opportunities for their voices to be heard.
Silver did not say what would happen if any NBA players refused to stand during the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ simply adding: ‘All I can say is if that were to happen, we´ll deal with it when it happens.’
EX-NBA STAR: PROTESTING STARS AND STRIPES COST ME MILLIONS
In this March 15, 1996 file photo, Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stands with his teammates and prays during the national anthem before an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago
In 1996, Denver Nuggets star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended for one game by the NBA when he sat on the bench during the playing of the national anthem.
Rauf, who was born Chris Jackson but then changed his name after he converted to Islam, said that as a practicing Muslim he could not honor the Stars and Stripes, which he considered a symbol of oppression.
‘You can’t be for God and for oppression,’ he said at the time.
‘It’s clear in the Koran, Islam is the only way. I don’t criticize those who stand, so don’t criticize me for sitting.’
The act of protest led to an outpouring of hate and anger, with Abdul-Rauf receiving death threats.
Abdul-Rauf and the NBA reached a compromise whereby he would stand during the anthem and silently recite Islamic prayer.
Still, the former guard says he paid a steep price. By 1998, he was out of the NBA.
Though just 29 years old and still in the prime of his career, Abdul-Rauf was forced to spend the rest of his professional playing days in Europe.
In the process, he lost out on millions of dollars in lucrative contracts. But he says there are no regrets.
‘It’s priceless to know that I can go to sleep knowing that I stood to my principles,’ Abdul-Rauf told The Undefeated.
‘Whether I go broke, whether they take my life, whatever it is, I stood on principles. To me, that is worth more than wealth and fame.’
Abdul-Rauf said he believes that Kaepernick, who has been unable to find a team this season, is being shunned by the NFL for his political beliefs.