Bradley Beal on Wednesday addressed the Washington Wizards‘ decision to lock arms during Tuesday night’s playing of the national anthem, an act he described as a “peaceful protest.”
“I’m not in favor of what’s been going on in the country, what’s been going on in recent past or the retaliation on both ends,” Beal said. “There’s a lot of things we need to get better at as a country, individually and together as a whole because nothing’s perfect and everything is pretty corrupt now. So protesting — I’m all for it until something is done about it.”
Last month, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a national conversation when he remained seated during the anthem as his way of protesting the mistreatment of African Americans and other people of color in the United States. Kaepernick later changed his protest to taking a knee, a move that was adopted by several other professional athletes, including the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.
Though anthem protests no longer dominate the news cycle, the start of the NBA preseason schedule has produced a new wave of demonstrations. Before Tuesday’s exhibition opener against the Miami Heat, the Wizards followed the lead of teams such as the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors, who have shown unity by locking arms and elbows in some fashion.
“I’m from St. Louis. I’ve been hit home with all type of stuff over the past couple years, with guys that have been friends that I’ve lost to individual violence and police violence,” Beal said, explaining his personal motives. “We’re all doing it because we want something done about it. We’re realizing that we’re still citizens of this world even though we’re NBA players. We still have a voice, and we’re using it, and this is our best way of doing it.”
Beal described the unity gesture as one that does not bring a “big distraction.” When asked whether the Wizards would continue locking arms throughout the preseason and regular season, Beal suggested that might be settled in a later team discussion.
“It’s tough, but it depends on what your dedication is,” he said. “Me, I want something — and I’m pretty sure a lot of these guys are the same way — we all want something done about it. I think a lot of teams, a lot of guys are going to do it until something is done about it. That’s something we’ll probably talk about as well, later on down the line in the preseason, whether or not we’ll do it for the rest of the year.”