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Report: Pelicans, Jazz players may kneel around Black Lives Matter on court

NBA kneel

ORLANDO, FL - JULY 21: A general overall interior view of the court as part of the NBA Restart 2020 on July 21, 2020 at The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

It shouldn’t be a surprise that when NBA games start NBA players will kneel during the national anthem. It’s part of the players’ social justice efforts around the NBA’s restart.

What will that look like? It may start in the first game Thursday night with the Pelicans and Jazz players kneeling around the Black Lives Matter words on the court, something reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz are discussing a plan to surround the Black Lives Matter signage on the Wide World of Sports arena court and kneel together during the playing of the national anthem on Thursday, league sources told ESPN...

Instead of having two groups protest separately, the Pelicans and Jazz are adamant that they want to display a united front, sources said. The coaches are expected to join the players in the demonstration.

The NBA has a rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem. The NBA is not anticipated to enforce that rule, as has been the case with WNBA protests (now and in the past). As NBA executives have discussed with NBC Sports in the past, the league is willing to bend its rules when it’s seen as the right thing to do.

Players know there will be blowback by doing this in some quarters, from politicians trying to score easy points and lazy political analysts ignoring the issues behind the symbolism. A few fans (and a lot of Russian Twitter bots) will follow their lead, criticizing the players for being unpatriotic and disrespectful of the military, entirely missing the point on both fronts.

The players do not care about that, they know their message is being heard, both today and by the generations that will be making the decisions in a few years.