NBA: Lakers, Spurs Lock Arms During National Anthem Before Thursday’s Game

by Josh Lanier

Lakers and Spurs players and coaches locked arms before Thursday’s game in solidarity following the protests at the U.S. Capitol. The teams met at center court during the national anthem.

Both teams denounced what happened at the January 6 rally that turned ugly. So far, five people have reportedly died from the incident including one police officer.

Lakers, Spurs Ask ‘Do You Understand Now?’

The gesture to meet at mid-court during the anthem is reminiscent of players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Though all players remained on their feet during the moment of unity Thursday in Los Angeles.

“It’s a problem. We’re working to change things,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, via the LA Times. “It’s not going to happen overnight. But what we saw in the last two days with the Jacob Blake ruling and the events at the U.S. Capitol were just very disheartening and saddening and it was just the inequality and the double standard on full display. And it’s not right.”

Players felt the situation would have been handled differently had the protesters been mostly black. In fact, they felt police were much more calm and controlled compared to the protests and riots following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

“It just laid bare the blatant, dangerous, debilitating racism that is our country’s sin and that has plagued us all of these years. There can’t be a better obvious example of a system that is not fair, as far as justice and equal rights are concerned and protection of citizens,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after San Antonio’s 118-109 win. “It was just right in your face. And anybody that can ignore that is a shameful individual in my opinion. It’s hard to deny that.”

LeBron James drove that point home with a shirt he wore into the arena that read “Do you understand now?”

“We live in two Americas,” James said after the game, according to the LA Times. “And that was a prime example of that yesterday. And if you don’t understand that or don’t see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, then you really need to take a step back — not even just one step, but maybe four or five, or even 10 steps backwards.”