The national anthem protests, spurred on by Colin Kaepernick and several other professional athletes, has quickly become one of the most divisive topics of the year, and there’s very little middle ground. Folks either see it as an insult to our country, a slap in the face to the men and women of the armed forces who risk their lives to protect us, or a patriotic expression of our first amendment rights and a long-overdue conversation starter on the topics plaguing our nation, namely race and class inequality.
You can count Cavs owner Dan Gilbert among the former. During a recent panel discussion at the University of Michigan, Gilbert squared off with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who believes his players and others have every right to express their feelings of alienation and disenfranchisement.
Here’s what Gilbert had to say, via Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News:
“There’s a million ways you can express yourself and you should do that, for sure. Taking a knee in the United States of America while millions of people are watching, I think it’s a poor example,” Gilbert said.
What would Gilbert do if a Cavalier decided to take such action?
“I hope we don’t ever have to come with that,” Gilbert said.
Prior to the NBA season, the league was bracing for widespread anthem protests, but aside from a few scattered demonstrations of solidarity that have mostly included players locking arms with one another, it’s been relatively quiet on that front. Most of the league’s biggest stars — including LeBron James — have said that although they support Kaepernick and other athletes’ decisions to kneel during the anthem, they won’t do so themselves.