"Our nation faces serious issues including gun violence, poverty, equal justice, access to education, and civil rights."
The wave of demonstrations during the national anthem that has sparked a national debate has reached the NBA.
The Knicks linked arms during the national anthem before their preseason game against the Nets at Madison Square Garden. The team released an explanatory statement before the demonstration.
"We have deep love and respect for this country. The United States has given us all so much including an unbelievable opportunity and platform to stand up for what's right.
Today, our country faces serious issues including gun violence, poverty, equal justice, access to education and civil rights.
Together as a team, we will stand during the national anthem with linked arms not just as a sign of unity but also to call attention to these issues.
Standing together, by addressing these issues, that is how we honor the sacrifices made to defend liberties."
On Sept. 22, President Donald Trump reinvigorated the debate over national anthem protests—a debate Colin Kaepernick sparked when he began sitting during the anthem last year to protest racial injustice—when he said that NFL players should "fire" players who protest and referred to a player who protests as "son of a b----." The comments were criticized by NFL players, owners and the commissioner, and NFL players responded with widespread demonstrations during the anthem during Week 3.
Trump also drew the criticism of NBA players when he revoked Stephen Curry's invitation to the White House for a celebratory visit after the Warriors' championship. The Warriors then announced that they wouldn't make the trip, as they felt unwanted.
While NFL players are able to sit or kneel during the anthem, the NBA has a rule that requires players to stand. Last week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he expected players to continue to stand during the anthem.
Knicks center Enes Kanter said he wanted to take a knee during the anthem, but instead joined the team in standing.
"We did it as a team," Kanter said. “If it was up to me, yeah, I’d take a knee. We decided not to take a knee. It was a team decision. I say this every time, I feel like the most important thing in America is to speak out for equality and justice. If you don’t see those two things in America, I feel really bad and it’s breaking my heart. What they’re fighting for is right. I’m here, but I know same things are in my own country.”