Adam Silver on Players Kneeling During National Anthem: 'I Respect Peaceful Protest'

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The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz have reportedly discussed a plan to kneel together around the Black Lives Matter signage during the National Anthem on Thursday night. NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Good Morning America that he respects the decision by players and coaches.

"The NBA has had a rule in its books that preceded David Stern which was standing for the National Anthem," Silver said on GMA on Wednesday. "Having said that, I respect peaceful protest. I'm not sure what our players will do when they come out tomorrow night and we'll of course address it at the time, but I also understand these are highly unusual times."

Silver's comments come ahead of the league's restart on July 30. The Pelicans and Jazz will play in the NBA's first game in its bubble campus in Orlando, Fla.

League officials are "not expected" to enforce its 1981 anthem policy, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews. The policy states, "players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line."

The NBA has worked with the NBA Players' Association to incorporate social justice and racial inequity initiatives into the league's restart. This includes Black Lives Matter signage on the courts, messages on jerseys and the creation of a foundation dedicated to "economic empowerment," specifically focused on Black Americans.

Silver added that the turmoil and emotional impact of George Floyd's death almost prevented the league from relaunching the season, but it was important to use their platform to affect change. 

Before the WNBA hosted the first game of its bubble on Saturday, players dedicated the season to Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her home by Lousiville police officers in March. Following a moment of silence, players from the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty both walked to their locker rooms prior to the National Anthem. 

The NBA season's restart begins on Thursday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m. EST.