In light of the recent protest movements following President Donald Trump’s remarks towards NFL players who choose to protest during the national anthem, on September 29th, a memo distributed by Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum was delivered to NBA teams instructing them that the league office will use its discretion to discipline any player or coach that does not stand for the anthem.
The memo specifically states that individuals “do not have the discretion to waive” this rule. The Deputy Commissioner also suggests that players who want to express their opinions may do so during a joint pregame address at their first home game with their coaches. Tatum includes that the pregame address may portray team leadership and the importance of unity.
In an attempt to cater to their players by acknowledging the sensitivity of the memo, Commissioners have urged players to address the issues that matter most to them and to even engage in mentorships or community gatherings in order to bridge the gap using basketball as a platform. Another substitution that was offered in the memo was a public service announcement in the form of a video tribute in which players or team leaders can speak about the crucial issues they care about.
A league that is generally known for its equality and inclusion values may have caused an unruly start to the season by demanding political cooperation from their teams at a profound time in political history.
Despite the peace-keeping attempts in hopes of a smooth opening on October 17th, this is the first time the NBA has addressed their anthem rule and the sensitivity of the time may end up backfiring against them for making it a requirement to stand, regardless of other expressed options. Whether athletes are going to stand for abridgment of their first amendment rights is something that will be anticipated on the start of the season.