Furkan Korkmaz Plans to Join 76ers Teammates in National Anthem Protests

Justin Grasso

When the NBA made the restart of the 2019-2020 season official, players had concerns. Not only because the COVID-19 pandemic is still in effect, but because many didn't want the attention from nationwide protests regarding police brutality, racism, and social injustice in America to be overshadowed by the return of basketball.

Therefore, NBA players are finding ways to keep the conversation going while playing. On Thursday, the NBA restarted officially. As expected, many players kneeled in protest during the National Anthem before tip-off over the last couple of days. On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to do the same.

But that wasn't always the case. Sixers Turkish guard Furkan Korkmaz admitted he might've had some mixed feelings about protesting during the United State's National Anthem. After a conversation with Sixers veteran Tobias Harris, though, the young guard now has a different perspective. 

During a meeting with a handful of his teammates, Korkmaz revealed he will join his teammates in protest. And the Sixers' rookie Matisse Thybulle got the conversation on camera and added it to his latest episode of 'Welcome to the Bubble' on YouTube.

"Where I come from (Turkey) my flag comes first and the National Anthem comes second," Korkmaz stated. "In the Turkish National Anthem you stand like this, like a soldier and you cannot move -- it's disrespectful. I'm from Turkey, but I live here and I earn my money here. That's why I have the same respect to the American flag. But I know this is about human rights and what happens is unacceptable. I will be with you guys two-hundred percent -- there's no question."

In addition to joining his teammates in protest before the game, Korkmaz will also be one of six Sixers on the team who will replace his last name on the back of his jersey with one of the NBA's approved social justice messages. For Korkmaz, he will wear the word "equality," for the rest of the 2019-2020 NBA season. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_