The San Antonio Spurs did not kneel during the national anthem on Wednesday night, when they opened their NBA season at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They still sent a message:
In case you don’t want to click the video, here’s the message in full:
“There are things happening in our communities that need our attention. We understand your desire to attend our games as an escape and chosen form of entertainment. In that, we feel there is a significant commonality in all of us that allows our community to be so special.
“That commonality should include aspirations for social justice, freedom of speech in its many forms, and equal opportunity for education, and economic advancement regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion.”
“It is our hope that we can, as a community, inspire and evoke real change. We ask that you join with us in your daily lives in the pursuit of equality. And in that, we honor our country by exercising demands for what this great nation has promised and what our military continues to fight for.”
The message was played after the anthem as both teams locked arms at each end of the court. Spurs greats Tim Duncan and David Robinson joined in, with Duncan attending his first game at AT&T Center since last December, when the team retired his jersey. According to ESPN, he returned to his former home arena specifically for that moment.
Both Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich and point guard Dejounte Murray declined to answer when asked who specifically wrote the message, and ESPN reports that the decision to release it was a “collective” one made by the team as a whole. It was unveiled just days after Popovich continued his attacks on President Trump, whom he called a “soulless coward.”
Popovich was cheered by the fans’ positive reaction to it.
“I want to congratulate our fans on the way they reacted at the beginning of the game after the national anthem was played,” he told reporters after his team’s 107-99 win. “They obviously also buy into the messages that were set up on the Jumbotron. I’m so proud to be in this city when we have fans that understand that it’s important for everybody. Kudos to our fans.”
Said Spurs point guard Danny Green: “Obviously, we have heard that he’s gotten some backlash. But regardless, he’s speaking out for us. And we have to speak out for him and back him for him taking a stand. Obviously, some of his comments have been criticized. But we felt we should do something. There’s been back and forth about what we should do. But I thought it was good. I didn’t think it was too much. I said we’ve got to back our coach, especially when he’s speaking out for us.”
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