Kaepernick, who began his protests last month, said he will continue to kneel while the national anthem plays before games to draw increased attention to police killings and the state of race relations in the United States.
While Kerr said he understands those who may be offended by Kaepernick’s actions because it could be viewed as a slight to U.S. troops, he did not parse his words in agreeing with the San Francisco 49ers star’s message. Kerr was especially moved to speak out about the police killing of Terence Crutcher, the unarmed black father of four who was shown being gunned down despite having both hands in the air in a video that went viral this week.
“No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, I would hope that every American is disgusted with what is going on around the country, with what happened in Tulsa two days ago, Terence Crutcher,” Kerr said, later repeating himself. “It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, on the Kaepernick stuff, you better be disgusted about things that are happening.”
Kerr told reporters Wednesday that he had already spoken to several members of the Warriors about the recent spate of police killings and the Black Lives Matter movement that has emerged to protest those killings, and noted that he plans to support any players on the squad who wish to conduct their own protests.
“As long as the message is clear, I’m all for people speaking out against injustice,” Kerr said (via USA Today). “Whatever form that takes, if it’s non-violent and it leads to conversation, then I think that’s a good thing.”
A handful of NBA players have already come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, including Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, who spoke up about the state of events at this year’s ESPY awards in July. Anthony has been particularly vocal, calling on all athletes to take a stand even if it might cost them endorsement deals.
Like Kerr, NBA and NBA Players Association executives also appear to be expecting players to protest next month, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports.
In a letter obtained by the network that was sent to players, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and union executive director Michele Roberts promised to work together so players could take “meaningful action” regarding current events in the United States. Among that action, Silver and Roberts reportedly want to set up a series of town hall events where NBA stars would meet with local police officials in NBA cities.
The NBA and the union are reportedly seeking the input of players now.
The NBA is in a somewhat difficult spot if players hope to follow Kaepernick’s lead and kneel during the anthem as several other athletes have, including fellow NFL players as well as U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Unlike in the NFL and other sports leagues, NBA rules dictate that players must stand for the national anthem.
But that rule, which also appears in the WNBA rule book, didn’t stop the entire Indiana Fever team from kneeling during the anthem ahead of their Wednesday night loss to the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA playoffs. Since Kaepernick began his protests last month, the Fever is the first entire team in any sport to take a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The team and players could now be facing fines for their actions.
This is not the first time Fever players have opted to take a social stand in the face of possible fines, however. In July, Fever, Mercury and New York Liberty players wore black T-shirts ahead of their games to protest the police shootings that had killed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. The WNBA eventually rescinded the fines it had originally doled out to the players for violating the league’s uniform policy.