Supposedly, the Celtics held a meeting before the game to put a plan of action together. The team chose to play, and banded together with Miami for their silent kneeling protest. In addition, the two NBA teams released a joint statement that shared details on their choice to play Wednesday’s game.
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed,” their statement says. “We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on.”
“The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protesters who acted illegally just shows how much work we have to do,” the statement added.
Miami Heat reporter Ira Winderman posted video of the Heat and Celtics taking a knee during the national anthem. Heat center Meyers Leonard is the only player that stood for the anthem. Likewise, the player stood during protests in the NBA Bubble this past season.
National Anthem Protests Continue in the NBA
The treatment of Trump’s supporters who broke into the Capitol has frustrated many of the players. Additionally, the players disagreed with prosecutors who declined to charge the Kenosha officer who shot Jacob Blake in August. However, the players said they still want to bring joy to fans during these troubling times.
“We have decided to play tonight’s game to try and bring joy into people’s lives,” the joint statement continued. “But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America.”
Following Blake’s shooting, the NBA went on strike at the end of August amid the playoffs. Every team in the NBA Bubble sat out until they held talks with league officials and eventually returned to play. The players suggested a list of “actionable items” for the NBA to support, which the league agreed to. Also, many of the players believed they would lose their biggest platform if they ended the season prematurely.
The strike and silent protests during the national anthem created controversy that still blankets the NBA. At the time, President Trump said he felt like “people are a little tired of the NBA, frankly.” He continued by saying that the NBA turned into a “political organization.” Trump said it’s not good for the country or NBA fans.