Everyone entered the NBA preseason wondering how the league’s teams and players would handle the national anthem. The Association is explicitly against kneeling or sitting during it, but the NBA is the most progressive professional sporting entity in North America. Surely its players would do something.
And some did. The Denver Nuggets, for instance, locked arms.
The Golden State Warriors, one of the Association’s most outspoken teams, did not. The absence of an illustrious display puzzled a few and caught the attention of most; the absence of a news-worthy item became, well, news-worthy.
That doesn’t mean the Warriors owed anyone an explanation. But Draymond Green gave one anyway, per Mark Medina of the Mercury News:
Draymond Green on Warriors not holding any protest before the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/ljmqBqxnZN
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 1, 2017
Green is spot-on here. People are losing track of what these displays, or protests, or whatever, are supposed to represent. Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality. Members of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx donned “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability” shirts to do the same. Now that similar actions have swept across the NFL, people are losing sight of what’s going on at all. The protests aren’t against the national anthem. They’re either being done in spirit of what Kaepernick and the Lynx started, or in support of fellow players in general.
At some point, though, the course of action needs to change. The conversation needs to shift. Players must take it one step further than silent displays of unity and morality leanings. If they want to have an even more meaningful impact, they’ll need to speak louder and carry out more powerfull actions.
As for what all this will entail, who knows. And I’m not here to tell any of the Warriors, or the NFL’s players, or anyone else, they need to do anything. But the Warriors have been more outspoken in their stances, which means just as much, if not more. The extent of this conversation cannot begin and end with these pregame and pre-/mid-anthem protests. The Warriors know this. Other athletes, particularly in the NBA, know it, too. If they want more out of this discussion, then more will have to be done.
And it seems that’s what Golden State is ultimately aiming for—a more profound way of advancing a conversation that, in its current form, may have stalled at its starting point.