NBA players, coaches, and referees took a knee during the national anthem before Thursday night’s bubble openers. It was an expected move by all involved — the news of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz taking knees had been reported — but it still created a powerful visual and served as the latest reminder of the ongoing fight against systemic inequality in our society.
It also, in news that should surprise absolutely no one, happened to the chagrin of the President of the United States. Donald Trump famously blew a number of dog whistles and tried to reframe the discussion around Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers to one about loving the flag and America’s military. While POTUS hasn’t tweeted about the knees taken by NBA players, he did indicate that “the game is over for me” when a player kneels in a tweet from earlier this month.
J.J. Redick of the New Orleans Pelicans was asked to respond to this by Chris Hayes of Yahoo Sports following the team’s loss to the Jazz on Thursday, and in response, he indicated that making sure a television at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is turned into a basketball game isn’t exactly top of mind.
“First of all, I don’t think anybody in the NBA cares if President Trump watches basketball. I couldn’t care less,” Redick said. “As far as his base, I think regardless of the specificity of tweeting about the NBA, every tweet of his is meant to divide, every tweet is meant to incite, every tweet is meant to embolden his base. So [last week] was no different.”
Redick, who has never been shy about criticizing Trump in the past, also discussed any sort of negative response that could come the league’s way in terms of individuals who agree with Trump’s sentiment turning off games. In his eyes, there’s a level of understanding that he believes is necessary for those who are tuning in.
“Look, we want people to enjoy the NBA and we love our fans, but I think there has to be some level of acceptance and acknowledgement in what our league is saying, what our league is doing and what is happening across this country,” Redick told Yahoo Sports. “And the people who are unwilling to acknowledge that, maybe they shouldn’t be fans.”
Redick came off the bench for the Pelicans on Thursday, scoring 21 points on 7-for-15 shooting with four rebounds and three assists. The Pelicans will next take the floor on Saturday evening in a tilt against the Clippers.