Mitchell Leff / Getty ImagesNBA analyst and former star player Charles Barkley speaks before a sculpture of him was unveiled at the Philadelphia 76ers’ training facility in Camden, New Jersey, on Sept. 13, 2019. (Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
The NBA made its return Thursday evening nearly five months after the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, and players signaled they were in unison with regard to embracing political activism on the court.
In two games played from professional basketball’s bubble near Orlando, Florida, the season tipped off again, but the league that’s back isn’t the same one that went into hiatus amid the health crisis that hit hard in March.
The NBA made a spectacle out of the playing of the national anthem, dividing fans when not a single player or coach on four teams, or the officials working the games, stood for the country’s flag and anthem.
But at least one sports analyst was brave enough to comment on the players’ protest of the American flag without kowtowing to the liberal agenda, which allows little dissent on the matter.
TNT NBA analyst and former all-star Charles Barkley reminded his network colleagues that there needs to be a place for people in professional basketball who refuse to kneel for the flag.
“The national anthem means different things to different people,” Barkley said on the air. “I’m glad these [NBA players] are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear.
“I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified,” Barkley concluded.
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Again, not a single player stood for the anthem.
The players on all four teams adorned Black Lives Matter shirts, which matched the slogan painted on the court.
Some players wore activist slogans on their jerseys in place of names.
Lakers star LeBron James commented on the in-game political activism after his team’s game.
James said he hoped the activism made former NFL quarterback and national anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick “proud.”
“What people didn’t understand … [kneeling] had absolutely nothing to do about the flag … [Kaepernick] explained that and people never listened. … I did! … We just thank him for sacrificing everything that he did,” James told the media after the game.
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