The 76ers issued a statement but did not say what exactly prompted them to cancel Streeter’s performance. The organization had a member of its dance team sing the national anthem instead.
“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change,” the team said. “We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
“I saw the little pause there . . . I was wondering, something had crossed my mind like, ‘What’s going on? Did something happen?'” 76ers guard Gerald Henderson said of the pregame anthem performance (via ESPN). “That was pretty big time for a cheerleader to step in there, and she killed it!”
“There’s a lot going on man,” Henderson added. “People care about these things that are happening, as well as they should. And they are going to express themselves in different ways . . . People are trying to make statements, I guess.”
Last week, the 76ers were in Miami for a preseason game when Denasia Lawrence performed the national anthem while on one knee and wearing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. Lawrence, a social worker, subsequently wrote on Facebook that “until our cry is rightfully heard, protests will still happen and demands will still be made!”
At an earlier preseason NBA game in Sacramento, Leah Tysse, who is white, knelt while performing the anthem. Unlike the NFL, in which 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the spate of protests in August by kneeling while “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung before games, the NBA mandates that its players stand during the renditions of the anthem. However, it does not have a publicly known, leaguewide policy on the actions or appearance of the singers.
“I was angry, extremely, extremely angry and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart,” Streeter told the AP. “Honestly, I was very excited about being able to perform the national anthem. I was really looking forward to that.”
“I also felt it was important to express the ongoing challenges and ongoing injustice we face as a black community within the United States of America — that’s very important to me,” Streeter added. “Yes, we live in the greatest country in the world but there are issues that we cannot ignore. This can’t be ignored.”