Adam Silver: Standing for national anthem is 'appropriate thing to do'

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Saturday, October 22, 2016

NEW YORK -- Saying that "there may be no organization in our society better positioned than the NBA" to have an impact on today's social climate in the United States, commissioner Adam Silver said he wants to see NBA players continue to stand during the national anthem when the regular season opens next week.

"I don't know if the players are organizing anything," Silver said at the NBA's board of governors meeting in Manhattan. "All I can say is what we have seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem. It would be my hope that they continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

So far during the preseason, the Knicks, Rockets, Lakers, Celtics, Wizards and Kings have been among the teams to stand and interlock arms during the playing of the national anthem.

When the season starts Tuesday with the Knicks visiting the Cavaliers, eyes will be on players such asLeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and what they and their respective teams might do as a show of solidarity to protest racial injustice.

NBA teams and players have been considering the best approach, especially after the controversy and discussion sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial oppression and inequality in the United States.

James, Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul called for athletes to be more active in promoting social change during the ESPYS this summer.

"I have thought a lot about this, and Michele Roberts and I talked a lot about these issues," Silver said, referring to the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. "There may be no organization in our society better positioned than the NBA and its players to try and have an impact on these difficult issues plaguing many of our cities.

"So aside from discussions around the anthem, it is my expectation that as we move beyond the collective bargaining [negotiating] process, that we and the players together will continue to address these issues and look for opportunities where we can really make a difference.

"Before there were issues around the anthem, I happened to be at the ESPYS this year when our four players stood up and made their point about the need for us to come together and work in our communities, and we have tried to build on their challenge ... to see what impact that we can have, what they can have as individual athletes and how we can contribute to that as the league together with our teams. I think we are making progress."

Silver said Kathy Behrens, NBA president of social responsibility and player programs, continues to talk with the players about the best approach moving forward.

"We have had very constructive discussions ... about meaningful action that we can take collectively in our communities to help build trust, whether between police officers and members of the community looking for constructive ways to address racial injustice, economic injustice," Silver said. "I am very proud with the relationship we have built with the union, with the players on these issues. My expectation is that we'll see into the regular season more of what we have seen in the preseason, which is a sense of, let's deal directly with these important issues."