Memo Reminds NBA Players Must Stand During National Anthem, Outlines Ways Players Can Effect Change

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum sent out a memo to all 30 teams Friday instructing players and coaches to stand during the national anthem. Although there was no mention of punishment should players choose to kneel, he expressed that the league has a rule in place disallowing players from sitting or kneeling during the anthem. 

In the memo, obtained by Complex Sports, Tatum asked that teams use their season openers “to demonstrate your commitment to the NBA’s core values of equality, diversity, inclusion and serve as a unifying force in the community.” The memo continued: 

If you have not done so already, we suggest organizing discussions between players, coaches, general managers and ownership to hear the players’ perspectives.

One approach would be for team leadership to review existing team and league initiatives and encourage players to share their thoughts and ideas about them. Following those conversations, teams could develop plans prior to the start of the regular season for initiatives that players and senior leadership could participate in, such as:

  • Hosting Community Conversations with youth, parents, community leaders and law enforcement about the challenges we face and our shared responsibility to create positive change.
  • Creating “Building Bridges Through Basketball” programs that use the game of basketball to bring people together and deepen important bonds of trust and respect between young people, mentors, community leaders, law enforcement and other first responders.
  • Highlighting the importance of mentoring with the goal of adding 50,000 new mentors to support young people through our PSA campaign.
  • Engaging thought leaders and partners.  A variety of experts, speakers and partner organizations are available to players and teams as you continue these conversations and develop programming.
  • Establishing new and/or enhancing ongoing team initiatives and partnerships in the areas of criminal justice reform, economic empowerment and civic engagement.

Teams are urged to show videos prior to tip-off in their efforts to exemplify unity. It was also recommended that a player or coach address fans directly if a message is to be conveyed. 

Earlier this month, NFL players across the country took a knee during the anthem in protest of police brutality and in honor of Colin Kaepernick's decision to spearhead the gesture. This collective demonstration roused a response from the president, causing something of a sociopolitical tidal wave. NBA players Lebron James and Steph Curry both spoke out in support of NFL players’ decision to take a knee, and publicly criticized Donald Trump for claiming they should be fired for doing so. 

More likely than not, individual NBA players or entire teams are going to express their solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement (something their counterparts in the WNBA have been at the forefront of), whether that be in the form of kneeling during the anthem or not. And it's not because they don't have respect for the NBA or the white men who run it. It's because they should have the right to take a stand against the bigotry and racism that continues to plague this country. 

More from Complex

J.R. Smith Fires Back at Tracy McGrady Over His Take on ‘No Ring’ Criticism

Tracy McGrady will cement his legacy in the coming months when he's inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Of course, the cloud hanging over McGrady's head will be his inability to win a championship in his 16-year career, and T-Mac is well aware of that fact. 

While speaking at the Hall of Fame's 60 Days of Summer Program, McGrady addressed the criticisms regarding the “no rings” talk. “Social media can give a lot of people voices these days, and the first thing they say is 'No rings, no rings,'” McGrady said, according to MassLive.com. “You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn't blessed with that. But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can't get in the Hall of Fame.”

McGrady's stance on the “no rings” conversation struck a chord with Cleveland Cavaliers guard and NBA champion J.R. Smith, who called T-Mac's argument “dumb as hell.”

Of all the current NBA players to criticize McGrady about his comments which seemed to put personal accolades over winning, it's shocking that Swish would be that guy. 

McGrady, along with former Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self, WNBA player Rebecca Lobo, among others, will be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 8.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

More from Complex

Kevin Durant Claps Back at Twitter Trolls Who Are Talking Trash

The NBA Finals are over, which means Kevin Durant is back on Twitter.

KD has a lot of time on his hands, basking in the glory of his first NBA title. Apparently, he has so much time that he took it upon himself to address a few Twitter users who have been all up in his mentions with their hot takes and other random insults. Here’s him going in a few days ago:

Today, Durant is still being a savage. It all started when he complemented Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, who became the WNBA’s all-time scoring leader following the team’s win against the Los Angeles Sparks (90-59) in L.A. From there, KD was having some fun, getting into an argument with one superfan from OKC. A “fart in your face” insult was actually hurled.

At this point, you're probably wondering why KD is even engaging in social media at all. Everyone needs to blow off steam somehow, right?

But this might be the real reason. Says “the legend”:

LOL. Nice curve.

Keep doing you, KD.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

More from Complex