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Report: NBA not planning to change rule requiring players to stand for national anthem

2016 NBA Finals - Game Six

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: A general view during the national anthem before Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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The NBA and union are discussing how to handle expected national-anthem protests, a movement started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner in objection to police brutality against blacks.

Unlike the NFL, the NBA has an explicit rule for the anthem: “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The league is not currently planning to change the rule, sources said.

Instead, the league and union seem to be pitching a much more placid approach. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Everything in that memo is great. Players can use their platform to call forums and mentor. Basketball brings people together.

But the uncomfortable truth is kneeling during the anthem has brought more attention to the real issue – mistreatment of blacks in America – than anything else Kaepernick could’ve done. It might just take offending sensibilities to get people’s attention, but once Kaepernick had the spotlight, he delivered a powerful message.

NBA players can do the same, even if it requires breaking the rule.

The question remains whether the league will change how it punishes violators of the rule. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended in 1996 for refusing to stand for the anthem. Would NBA commissioner Adam Silver enact the same penalty now? Just because the rule remains on the books doesn’t mean it requires the same enforcement, because no consequence for violating it is explicitly stated.