San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem has sparked a national debate and has even crossed over to the NBA. Kaepernick is kneeling during the anthem to protest the oppression and ill treatment of African-Americans and other people of color in the United States. This is a stance Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and other NBA players have all agreed with and support.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo believes other NBA players will follow Kaepernick’s lead. From a conversation with Russ Bengston of Complex Sports:
I’m sure you’re paying attention to the Colin Kaepernick situation, protesting during the anthem, do you think that’s something that will transfer to the NBA?
Oh, no question. I truly believe it will. Because at the end of the day it’s a sport, and people are gonna be looking at some guys in the NBA to see what they’re gonna do as well. At the end of the day you just control what you can control, so your opinion is your opinion, that’s the beauty of the United States, so, do whatever you feel is best that will help you do whatever you believe.
Is that something you’ve had conversations with teammates about?
Not yet, but a few people just in general I’ve had conversations with about that, I tell ’em the same thing, people’s beliefs are people’s beliefs, you know what I mean, you can only control so much, you can only control what you can control, and the most things you can control is yourself. So whatever you believe, believe in to the utmost. But I think definitely, we’ll see a few guys in the NBA doing the same thing.
Oladipo is probably right as the NBA is one of the most free-thinking professional sport leagues in the country. Players are always expressing their opinions and thoughts on serious issues happening around the country. And perhaps proving Oladipo’s point, Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert recently released a rap song, where he says he will kneel during the anthem.
From Shumpert’s song called “His Story“:
You best believe I’m going to take me a knee for the anthem.
Now Shumpert did rap this line and since the majority of rap songs are quite superfluous, we can’t really take this as a declarative statement. However if Shumpert does actually kneel during the anthem, it could inspire other players to follow suit. Especially if Shumpert does on opening night when the Cavs get their championship rings. Just imagine the statement Shumpert would be sending if he does it then.
But whether Shumpert actually kneels during the anthem, Kaepernick’s protest is clearly on the minds of NBA players. So it wouldn’t be surprising if players follow the 49ers quarterback’s lead once the season starts in a few weeks.