AMHERST, Mass. -- As the National Anthem played Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics stood side-by-side, with both players and coaches holding one another’s hands.
It was their way of joining an ongoing discussion amid the increasing social unrest in the United States that has been centered around the rash of killings involving African American men by police officers.
The conversation is one that took off when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem at 49er games.
Although Kaepernick has repeatedly said his decision to kneel was to bring more attention and awareness to the almost-daily deaths of African American males at the hands of law enforcement officials, it has frequently been viewed by some as being unpatriotic.
Like most professional teams, the Celtics have their views on the subject matter and wanted to do something prior to the season starting to express how they feel and their desire to more than anything else, promote unity at a time when there is a growing sense of division.
Celtics oach Brad Stevens said the team has had a number of conversations, both collectively and in smaller groups, discussing the best approach to take.
They eventually decided to join hands in an image that’s akin to a team photo taken during the 1960-61 season.
“That’s one of the great things about being part of a team. You all come from different backgrounds and you learn about each other; you all come together for the common cause,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “You can all rally around that common cause and we can rally around teams. When you get into deep, impactful stuff, those are special conversations. Sometimes those are uncomfortable and sometimes, there can be tension around them. That’s the beautiful part about our group. They all really appreciate one another.”