According to a report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the NBA sent a memo to its teams this evening “reinforcing” the existing rule requiring players and coaches to stand during the national anthem. This echoes remarks made by commissioner Adam Silver yesterday, when he said he expects NBA players not to kneel or take other action during the national anthem. Per Lowe, the NBA reminded everyone that they can suspend players, and they suggested other ways for teams to get their political takes out there.
The memo, distributed by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, instructs teams that “the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem.” The memo states that individual teams “do not have the discretion to waive” the rule that players, coaches, and staff must stand for the anthem. The league has the discretion to discipline players who violate the rule.
In the memo, Tatum suggests teams might address the current political climate by having players and coaches give a joint pregame address. “This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season,” the memo states. The memo also suggests teams might prepare a video tribute or public service announcement featuring “team leadership speaking about the issues they care about.”
The NBA has been very supportive of player self-expression over the past few years, and Silver recently said he wished the Warriors chose to go to the White House so they could “share their views directly with the President.”
Lowe also reported that some owners are apparently queasy about publicly supporting their players in anti-Trump action out of fear of alienating their fanbases. The NBA season begins on Tuesday, October 17, and given the recent public remarks from some of the sport’s biggest players and coaches, you can still expect to see some sort of action.
Do you have a copy of the memo? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.