The NBA has an official rule about standing while the national anthem plays. Buried on page 61 of the NBA’s official rulebook under a section titled “H. PLAYER/TEAM CONDUCT AND DRESS,” the second of five rules reads “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”
With how NBA players have responded to president Donald Trump’s actions towards Warriors star Stephen Curry in recent days, and with how protests during the national anthem have popped up across the NFL over the past week, this seems like a big deal. LeBron James and others around the NBA have sent their support to the NFL players in the face of criticism over their anthem protests, and it’s a distinct possibility that NBA players could choose to do something similar.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has encouraged players to use their platform to speak out on social issues, but, as far as he is concerned, rules are rules, and he told the media on Thursday he expects players to follow the league’s rule regarding standing for the anthem when the season kicks off next month.
Silver told the media on Thursday that he doesn’t really have a plan in the event that a player uses the anthem to protest, but he’ll make a determination on what to do when the situation arises.
NBA players protesting the national anthem isn’t necessarily new, as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf had his own form of protest in 1996 as a member of the Denver Nuggets. With how widespread condemnation of Trump has been over the past few days, it almost seems like Silver is hoping everything will blow over before the season starts, and that this statement will keep players from doing anything during the anthem. But seeing as how it’s unlikely that the issues that athletes have tried to raise awareness for during the anthem will be resolved by the time the season tips off, that might be wishful thinking on Silver’s part.