You Buying This Explanation for Why Colin Kaepernick Wasn’t on That Controversial SI Cover?

Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated released one of the most controversial covers they’ve put out in a long time, even though they probably didn’t necessarily think that it would be all that controversial when they were planning it. As a reaction to all of the protests that took place last weekend after Donald Trump came out and criticized NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem prior to games, SI put together a cover with the title, “A NATION DIVIDED, SPORTS UNITED.” It featured LeBron James, Steph Curry, Roger Goodell, Steve Kerr, Michael Bennett, and Candace Parker on it, among others.

As soon as the SI cover started circulating on social media, the first question most people had was: “WTF is Roger Goodell doing on it?” While Goodell did release a statement and—sort of—distance himself and the NFL from Trump’s anti-protest comments, he hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to support the players who have protested racial injustices and police brutality over the last year. And lest you forget, he’s kept quiet with regards to the petition that a handful of players sent him over the summer asking for the NFL to devote an entire month to social activism. So his inclusion on the SI cover was puzzling at best and downright disrespectful at worst in the eyes of many.

It also didn’t take very long for people to start asking another question once they got a glance at the cover: “Where is Colin Kaepernick?” Kaepernick is obviously the reason that this SI cover even exists in the first place. If he doesn’t take a knee during the national anthem before a preseason game last season, and if he doesn’t continue to take a knee during the national anthem before every regular-season game last year, and if he doesn’t influence other players to start taking a knee during the national anthem before games, and if he doesn’t get blackballed by the NFL in the offseason for igniting the entire #TakeAKnee movement, there is no reason for SI to do a “NATION DIVIDED, SPORTS UNITED” cover. So—where is Colin Kaepernick?

A lot of people asked this question:

Hell, even Curry, who was featured front and center on the SI cover, thought it was completely idiotic for SI to run a cover like this without giving a nod to the guy who is responsible for it existing. He went off on the cover on Wednesday and accused SI of trying to capitalize on the moment rather than actually doing something impactful for the culture.

“That was terrible,” he said. “Just kind of capitalizing on the hoopla and the media and all that nonsense. The real people that understand exactly what’s been going on and who’s really been active and vocal and truly making a difference, if you don’t have Kaepernick front and center on that, something’s wrong. It’s kind of hard to see how certain narratives take place, being prisoners of the moment.”

On Thursday, SI attempted to cover its ass by having Executive Editor Steve Cannella put together a video to explain the magazine’s original intention when they first conceived the cover. And it’s a great video—if you’re a fan of hearing someone use a bunch of buzz words that sound important. You can hear all about the “enduring message” of unity that SI was trying to get across with their cover below or here.

But what about the omission of Kaepernick? Again: Where was he? Cannella touched on that, too, and in doing so, he tried to sell everyone on the idea that Kaepernick was on the cover, even if he wasn’t actually there in the physical form.

“In some ways, even though his picture is not there, Colin Kaepernick is there; I think we all know that,” he said. “Colin Kaepernick—for lack of a better word—was looming over everything that happened this past weekend, and looms over many of the issues in society right now.”

Cannella continued by saying that SI’s intention wasn’t to ignore Kaepernick (for the record, he was mentioned at length in the accompanying cover story). Rather, the magazine wanted to shine light on some of the other professional athletes who stepped up in his absence last weekend—since, again, he has essentially been blackballed by the NFL—and continued to carry out his message.

“I thought what we were trying to capture with this cover was the way new voices emerged this weekend,” he said.

And later, he once again tried to push the idea that Kaepernick was a part of the cover even though, well, he wasn’t.

Colin Kaepernick is on that cover,” Cannella said. “Even if his face and his name aren’t there, we all know who stands behind this movement. We all know who got it started. Colin Kaepernick has many more brothers than he did a week ago.”

The problem with all of this is that by not including Kaepernick on the cover, SI—and those who are in favor of the message SI presented with its cover—are taking the focus away from what Kaepernick was protesting last season and instead turning it into a completely different issue. The “united” approach that SI took when it put its cover together is now leading to protests that really aren’t protests at all.

Kaepernick made it very clear why he was protesting shortly after his first protest went public.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder…I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.”

So by pushing Kaepernick out of the spotlight—or in this case, off of the SI cover—you’re also pushing the message that he fought so hard to get out there last season out of the spotlight, too. And you’re replacing it with a different message that is overshadowing the one that should be front and center right now. Just like Kaepernick should be front and center on that SI cover.

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Donald Trump Only Supports Free Speech When It’s White People Speaking

Donald Trump is not slick. He thinks he is, but he's not. For one, President U. Bum still hasn't figured out how to thread tweets.

Exhibit A: this disjointed, idiotic statement he made over the weekend about the legal, peaceful NFL demonstrations against police brutality and racism, which started with the still-unemployed Colin Kaepernick. After calling them “sons of bitches,” Trump insisted that players exercising their First Amendment rights be fired for “disrespect” to the national anthem and flag. 

Because America is already (somewhat) great, that statement was met with even more player protests, some of which included the very owners Trump attempted to appeal to. But that didn't stop him from doubling down on his stance Monday, insisting 1) it wasn't about race; and 2) that players not be vocal or demonstrative about their legitimate criticisms of this country's fucked-up, systematic, race-based issues.

Trump is mindbogglingly inconsistent in his support or criticism of free speech. But, as it turns out, he's pretty damn consistent with when he chooses to be critical. Instead of telling you, I'll just show you.

Trump had a busy weekend on Twitter; in addition to dropping his unsolicited opinion about the NFL, he announced he was rescinding his White House visit offer to Steph Curry, leaving Curry's team, the Golden State Warriors, with no choice but to decline the visit as a unit.

Even though Trump attributed the reason for the withdrawal to Curry's “hesitation,” the basketball star had been made it abundantly clear that his stance is unwavering against Trump and his dangerous rhetoric. It's pretty safe to assume Trump's decision was made in response to Curry's personal opinion, which he has every right to vocalize.

And then there's the incredibly messy case of ESPN correspondent Jemele Hill's recent criticism of Trump. In a conversation on Twitter, Hill unabashedly (and correctly) called Trump a white supremacist.

In retaliation, the Trump administration, via White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, recommended Hill be fired.

“I think that's one of the more outrageous comments that anyone can make,” Sanders said during a press briefing, “and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.”

What do the aforementioned presidentially shunned figures have in common? Yep, that's right: they're all people of color. Keep that in mind. Let's press on.

In contrast, Trump praised figures in the NASCAR industry Monday for saying anyone who protests in the sport would be fired, effectively quashing members' rights to demonstrate peacefully.

You don't need Google to know that NASCAR is one of, if not the whitest sport in the world. But in case you need some context: this summer, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. became the first black driver to race at NASCAR's top level in more than a decade. The reason he made it in? He replaced another driver, who was injured in a wreck. So, here we have Donald, supporting the very white NASCAR owners and corporate leaders, for making it clear that they don't support free speech. Got it.

But wait a minute. Let's go back to February, when Trump threatened U.C. Berkley with the revocation of federal funds because they did not “allow free speech.” In this instance, Trump tweeted in defense of former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, whose inflammatory, racist speeches regularly incite riots and violent protests.  

But wait a minute, take two: just last month, Trump tweeted in support of protestors in Boston, who counter-demonstrated against a self-described free speech rally that was held one week after the convening of white supremacists in Charlottesville that turned deadly.

Hmm… what is it about Boston that makes it different than say, Ferguson or Baltimore? Why might Trump be more willing to support protestors there?

Looking a little funny in the light there, President Bum.

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The Sports World Responds to Trump’s Attacks on NFL and NBA (UPDATED)

With our neighbors to the south, Mexico, recovering after getting hit with a series of earthquakes, and Puerto Rico still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Maria, Donald Trump spoke to the crowd at a campaign rally for “Big” Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday about offering a helping hand to those in need.

Man, who are we kidding? Instead, Trump attacked the NFL players who protest racism and police violence by not standing during the national anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flags to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out,” he said. “He’s fired! He’s fired!'” 

And why stop there? On Saturday morning, Trump also took aim at Steph Curry, who said he would not be going to the White House.  

Plenty of sports figures jumped to the defense of the basketball and football players suddenly in the crosshairs of the leader of the free world, while making #UBum a hashtag for the ages.

Even Colin Kaepernick's mom had a light-hearted response to Trump's remarks.  

ESPN's Jemele Hill, also a recent target of Trump's ire for calling him a “white supremacist,” had a message for Curry.

As did the company Curry endorses, Under Armour.

Leave it to a sporting goods company to have a stronger response to Trump's bullying than the NFL.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Trump responded to the outrage on Saturday afternoon with tweets clarifying his original position: that employees of a private company should be fired for their political beliefs.

Simultaneously, another championship team declined an invitation to the White House. A team spokesman confirmed that the UNC Tar Heels national championship men's basketball team will not visit, despite having been invited. 

Steve Kirschner said, “We couldn't find a date that worked for both parties. We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn't work out that date, we couldn't work out that date, so—we would have liked to have gone, but not going.” 

The players were “fine with going,” he added.

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Steph Curry to Re-Sign With Warriors for Record $201 Million Over Five Years

Once the clock struck 12:01 AM ET on July 1, and the NBA free agency period was underway, the Golden State Warriors didn't waste any time getting Steph Curry to come to terms on a five-year, $201 million “supermax” deal, the richest contract in league history. The “supermax,” or the designated-player exception, is a recently added provision to the NBA collective bargaining agreement. It awards a select few players even higher paying contracts as long as they can check off a number of boxes, including being named to one of the three all-NBA teams in two of the previous three seasons. 

This moment is a long time coming for Curry, who has been playing for the Warriors on a discount.

$44M: What the Warriors paid Steph Curry for the last four seasons.

$40.2M: What Curry will AVERAGE in EACH of the next five seasons.

Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 1, 2017

Even though the figures are absurd, people can't seem to hate on Curry for finally getting his big payday.

Stephen Curry went from being the 4th highest paid player on his team to having the highest salary in all of the #NBA.
Wow. He deserves it.

Aliya Langley (@aliyalangley) July 1, 2017

Stephen Curry went from getting paid $11mill for 4yrs to $40.2mill for the next 5yrs😱

— Bdiddy22 (@bcd1244) July 1, 2017

Stephen Curry just got the $$$$ he deserves. Highest paid player in NBA history 👏👏👏👏

— Mad Over You (@simon_garayi) July 1, 2017

Stephen Curry getting paid! Well deserved! 👏👌

Dos Imperial (@dosimperialph) July 1, 2017

Stephen Curry deserves to be paid a lot for his contribution to his team and to the nba coz many are watching basketball because of him.

— Hona Night (@HonaNight) July 1, 2017

Stephen Curry is finally getting the money he deserves. By the end of his career, being the highest paid player will be justified

— JT (@TrefryJames) July 1, 2017

It was about damn time Stephen Curry got paid.

— FreeBallSports (@FreeBallSports) July 1, 2017

Stephen Curry got paid 💰 well deserved tho

— Michael Bui (@MichaelBui5) July 1, 2017

Stephen curry 5 year 201 mil. I hate to say it but get paid you deserve it

— Duke (@Farb6Matt) July 1, 2017

Even LeBron James had to put his team's rivalry with Curry and the Warriors on the back-burner to acknowledge the historic signing.

Congrats @StephenCurry30!! 🙏🏾🙏🏾 https://t.co/hBpxVhAEBQ

— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 1, 2017

Congrats on a well deserved payday Steph. 

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Klay Thompson Gives Zero F*cks in Video Showing His Awkward Dance Moves at the Club

During an appearance on behalf of his Chinese sneaker sponsor Anta last weekend, Klay Thompson got rejected by the rim on one of the worst dunk attempts you’ll ever see. But did he let that ruin his offseason trip to China? No!

After that awful dunk attempt, lesser players might have spent the remainder of their trips hiding in their hotel rooms and anxiously awaiting the moment when they could go home. But Thompson, who is just a couple weeks removed from winning his second NBA title in three years, did the exact opposite.

On Wednesday, a video surfaced that showed him dancing at a nightclub called Face Club in China all by himself. As Tiësto played in the background, Thompson pumped his fists, grabbed his crotch, and even worked a sick spin move into the mix, all while those gathered at the club watched—and filmed—him. It was quite a sight:

 

Klay having the time of his life in China

A post shared by Warriors World (@officialwarriorsworld) on Jun 28, 2017 at 10:53am PDT

If you’re going to embarrass yourself by getting hung on a dunk, this is how you make a smooth recovery and make everyone forget all about it. Thompson’s dance moves have been all the rage on social media over the course of the last 24 hours with plenty of NBA fans chiming in on the clip:

Even Steph Curry had a reaction to it. He came across the clip of Thompson dancing on Instagram and couldn’t contain his tears of joy:

Thompson himself hasn’t gotten around to explaining WTF was going through his mind when he was letting loose in the club. But it looks like his trip to China is going way better than we thought it was after seeing his dunk fail earlier this week.

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How Draymond Green’s Suspension in Last Year’s Finals Changed NBA History

There comes a crossroads in every sport where a single play or moment transforms everything that comes after. The ripples affect everything. Sometimes they are more like a tsunami, and an entire sport is restructured. That’s what occurred when LeBron James casually tripped Draymond Green and then stepped over him in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals, provoking an emotional Green to whip his right hand at James’ groin in retaliation.

Because of Draymond’s series of kicks to Steven Adams’ baby-making area in the Western Conference Finals, and a tremendously stupid takedown of Michael Beasley in the waning moments in Game 3 of Golden State’s first-round series against Houston, he was assessed a Flagrant 1 for the James retaliation, which triggered a suspension for Game 5 of the Finals.

The NBA would never be the same.

It’s not crazy to suggest that if Draymond had been on the floor in Game 5, the Warriors would have gone on to win the game and the series. The fall-out from the suspension and the fact—here we go—the Cavs came back from 3-1 down against a 73-win Warriors team and the first-ever unanimous MVP to claim the title, transforms Green’s suspension into a gigantic boulder dropped in the NBA Lake with concentric tidal waves crashing into the surrounding shore and changing the entire landscape of the league. What would have happened if he wasn’t suspended?

For starters, the Cavs don’t win the title and blow up their core nucleus.

The 2017 Voltron in the Bay doesn’t ever form if Draymond Green isn’t suspended for Game 5, and the NBA is a completely different place. For that reason alone, Green’s groin thwack will reverberate throughout history.

A second-straight loss in the Finals to the same Warriors team likely means a monumental change. Cleveland general manager David Griffin had already shown midway through the 2015-16 season he had no qualms making big moves, replacing coach David Blatt with lead assistant Tyronn Lue despite the fact the Cavs had the best record in the Eastern Conference at the time.

The Kevin Love trade whispers would have ratcheted up into a piercing howl and he’s likely not playing for the Cavaliers in 2016-17. Whoever he’s traded to, lets say Boston, is then missing whomever they gave up to get him; in Boston’s case, their 2017 draft pick and some other players to a third team who then sends their star to the Cavs. (Remember, LeBron isn’t waiting around for some rookie, even the No. 1 pick—like when Andrew Wiggins was traded for Love the fall after James arrived in Cleveland.)

Maybe Kyrie Irving—LeBron’s current mentee—gets dealt, and the Cavs bring in a pass-first point guard, the same playmaker LeBron groused about not having earlier this year.

Lue isn’t brought back as coach. Remember, in late July of 2016 Lue signed a five-year, $35 million (fifth year is team option) extension to remain Cleveland's head coach.

LeBron still opts out of his contract, but signs another two-year deal, explicitly putting more pressure on Cavs brass to give him the players he needs to really compete—luxury tax be damned—with a Warriors juggernaut who just won back-to-back titles and an NBA-record 73 regular-season games.

James also falls to 2-5 in the NBA Finals, and doesn’t leapfrog all-time greats Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant like many felt he did after his historic comeback win over the Warriors. The Michal Jordan comparisons never really gain serious traction. People continue to say dumb things about James inability in the “clutch.” Some in Cleveland start to wonder if James will ever win a ring in Cleveland, and we spend most of the 2016-17 season wondering about his future with the Cavs.

J.R. Smith signs elsewhere in the summer of 2017 for substantially less money. Smith stupidly opted out to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015, but no one really wanted him. He then re-signed with Cleveland to a paltry-by-comparison two-year deal for $10.4 million with a player option for second year. He opted out again after winning the title and re-signed a four-year, $57-million deal in mid October of 2016. That doesn’t happen if Green isn’t suspended.

LeBron James Draymond Green Game 4 NBA Finals 2016
Image via USA Today Sports/David Richard

Perhaps the most important Cavs consequence after Green’s suspension: Matthew Dellavedova likely doesn’t get his own signature sneaker.

The biggest changes happen on the Golden State side, though, and those reverberations are felt throughout the league.

Draymond Green likely wins Finals MVP or—depending on how Game 5 goes—Stephen Curry does, cementing his status as an all-time great. Instead, many feel he’s an overrated two-time MVP who can’t hack it on the biggest stage. If Draymond wins MVP, he instantly becomes an all-time great, too. But, he probably still gets arrested over the summer for punching a Michigan State wide receiver.

Kevin Durant never goes to Golden State. He admitted as much in a Rolling Stone cover story that came out the fall after his shocking free agency announcement:

That means KD’s likely back with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and Russ doesn’t average a triple-double over the entirety of the 2016-17 season. Because of this, James Harden becomes the de facto 2017 MVP front-runner after teaming with Mike D’Antoni to bring seven seconds or less to Texas.

Affecting the 2017 MVP is one thing, but Durant’s decision to join the Warriors had much bigger ramifications. Super teams have been around in the NBA since Red Auerbach was chomping on a cigar and hoodwinking rival executives in smoke-filled back rooms, but nothing resembling the 2017 Warriors, who have two MVPs in their prime; a Defensive Player of the Year threat every season and perhaps the best defender in the space-and-pace era, and maybe the best two-way off-guard in the entire league, who is only their fourth-best player.

The 2017 Voltron in the Bay doesn’t ever form if Draymond Green isn’t suspended for Game 5, and the NBA is a completely different place. For that reason alone, Green’s groin thwack will reverberate throughout history as one of the biggest watershed moments in NBA history.

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Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry Speak on Scuffle That Broke Out Between Thunder and Warriors

The Warriors/Thunder game in Oklahoma City on Monday night wasn’t much of a game at all. Golden State knocked off OKC 111-95 behind 34 points from Klay Thompson and 23 points from Steph Curry to complete a season sweep of Russell Westbrook & Co. And the intensity inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn’t nearly what it was in early February when Kevin Durant made his first return back to OKC since leaving the Thunder last summer to sign with the Warriors. KD didn’t play this time around due to the knee injury he suffered recently, so Thunder fans weren’t as excited to see Golden State come to town.

 

 

But there was one brief moment late in the second quarter that proved that these two teams still don’t like each other very much. With just 5 seconds remaining on the clock before the halftime, a jump ball was called and players from both teams lined up for it. As they did, Curry and Thunder guard Semaj Christon started jockeying for position and got a little bit too physical with one another. Westbrook saw what was happening and stepped in to stick up for his teammate. And that led to a bunch of pushing and shoving between the two teams, which prompted the game's referees to hand out technical fouls to Curry, Christon, Westbrook, and Draymond Green.

After the game, those who were in the middle of the action were asked about it, and they talked about why the tension between the teams was so high at that particular point in the game. Westbrook said that he was simply trying to protect his teammate.

“Protecting my teammates, that’s what’s going through my mind,” he said. “I think Curry tried to get into it with Semaj, tried to push him, and I stepped right in between. That’s it. Once I see something going down with my teammates, I’m hopping in.”

Curry saw things a little bit differently. While speaking with reporters, he suggested that Christon was the instigator and that he pushed him a couple times before he responded by pushing back. But he also downplayed the scuffle itself and said it wasn’t a big deal.

“Your normal jump ball kind of fight for position situation,” he said. “I was just trying to get in between Russ and—how do you pronounce his last name? Trying to get in between them two. I felt him push me. I kind of let that first one go. Then, I kept going, and there was another little push. And at that point, I just wanted to kind of hold my position. Much ado about nothing after that.”

Green also spoke on the scuffle and laughed when he was asked about getting a technical on the play. Even though he wasn’t directly involved in the shenanigans that started the shoving match, he ended up getting hit with a tech anyway, which didn't surprise him.

“I’m happy you think the same thing I think,” Green said when a reporter asked him about picking up a T on the play. “Jesus Christ. I don’t know. Nothing surprises me at this point when it comes to anything like that. I actually knew it was going to happen, to be honest with you. I didn’t do anything, but I knew it. If I’m anywhere in the area, it’s expected.”

The Warriors and Thunder won’t play again during the regular season. But there’s a chance they could meet in the playoffs. And if they do? Expect the intensity in that series to be through the roof. It might not be all that competitive—Golden State seems to have OKC’s number this season—but it will be fun to watch.

 

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