NBA

Oklahoma City Thunder Players Blow Off Lawmaker Threat and Kneel During Anthem

State Rep. Sean Roberts issued a warning to the Oklahoma City Thunder players. They didn’t care. Roberts threatened to take away tax breaks from the team if the players took a knee during the national them because he considered it an “unpatriotic act.” The threat was issued Friday, and on Saturday every Thunder player took a knee during the anthem before their game with the Utah Jazz.

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After roughly four months without basketball, the NBA made its return Thursday. The league has gathered 22 teams inside a ‘bubble’ in Orlando, Florida to resume the 2019-20 season. Teams will play eight games to determine playoff seeding and which 16 teams will qualify for the postseason.

Since the death of George Floyd on May 25, players have been very vocal about racial inequality. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has allowed players to wear league-approved social justice messages on the back of their jerseys. The courts the teams play on have “Back Lives Matter” written down the sideline.

Players have also followed former Colin Kaepernick’s lead when it comes to kneeling for the national anthem. Kaepernick in 2016 refused to stand for the anthem as a way of protesting police brutality and social injustice. Like Kaepernick, NBA players have been very active in using their platform to help raise awareness about social inequality.

Players have been kneeling during the national anthem regularly

On Thursday, members of the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans to unite and kneel during the playing of the national anthem. The Jazz vs. Pelicans game was the first one to begin the NBA restart. Teams have since followed suit and have continued despite the league rule that states “players, coaches, and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line.”

The league rule, in effect since 1981, will not be enforced by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “The NBA has had a rule on its books that preceded David Stern, which was standing for the national anthem. Having said that, I respect peaceful protest,” Silver said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I’m not sure what our players will do when they come out tomorrow night. We’ll of course address it at the time but I also understand these are highly unusual times.”

One player, Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic, did not kneel during his team’s game Friday against the Brooklyn Nets. He cited his religious beliefs for not following suit. He said he believed Black lives matter, but he didn’t feel comfortable kneeling because of his beliefs.

Oklahoma City Thunder players ignore lawmaker threat

State Rep. Sean Roberts warned the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise and its players Friday night. He wrote that if players took a knee during the anthem, he may be forced to cut tax breaks the team is receiving.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Roberts’ statement called kneeling unpatriotic and he said he would look elsewhere to provide tax breaks. “If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma,” the statement read in part.

Roberts continued, “By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.” Oklahoma City players clearly didn’t take Roberts seriously as they all took a knee before Saturday’s game.