“In my point of view that’s what the flag represents,” Kobe said.
If Kobe Bryant had been playing in the NBA this season, he would have been one of the players demonstrating during the national anthem.
Bryant told The Undefeated’s Jemele Hill that he believes in the message spread by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and would have joined the protest movement.
“Yeah, I would have participated in it, for sure,” Bryant said. “I’m sure I would have gotten some flak for it. That’s fine. I think that Colin’s message was a very simple one. It was police brutality needs to stop. We need to take a look at that.
“From my experience in the locker room, it doesn’t seem like any of the players that I played with certainly would have had an issue with that. I think we understand this is a free country. I think we have the right to peaceful protest. By the way, in my point of view that’s what the flag represents as well. The ability to speak, the ability to voice your opinion. And everybody is entitled to that, so everybody getting up in arms about it, they’re certainly in their right to do that as we’re certainly in our right to protest.”
While the NFL doesn’t have a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem—thus permitting some to kneel or sit in protest this season—the NBA does have a rule that requires players to “line up in a dignified posture.” (The league used the rule to suspend Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996.)
So when NBA players wanted to make a statement during the national anthem earlier this season, they chose to link arms in a statement of “unity.” The Hawks and Cavs stood together with their arms linked before a game in October. The Knicks stood while interlocking their arms, but Enes Kanter said he’d rather have kneeled.