Anaheim- The PA announcer requested that everyone rise and remove their hats for the national anthem. The Los Angeles Lakers gathered under their basket as normal, but the team took the extra step of locking arms as their version of a response to the national anthem protests going on around the country after San Franscisco 49ers quarterback started the movement by kneeling during the anthem.
The move was a new one for the team, and it doesn’t sound like it will be stopping any time soon.
“It’s a team thing, we all decided to stand together with it, and [do so] as a team as long as there’s an issue with it,” said Lakers center Tarik Black. “We show respect to both sides. We show respect to the police, our forces, and we also show respect to the victims. So we’re mutual in it, and we’re going to stick with it as long as there’s an issue and as long as it’s going on.”
The Lakers players may be the ones out on the floor making the gesture, but the organization and coaching staff made it clear that they figuratively stand with them.
"We fully support our players in exercising their right of expression over an issue that is so important," the team said in an official statement following the players’ gesture. "We also applaud the NBA and the NBA Players Assn. for their collaborative work in expanding the dialogue and for their spirit of cooperation. Finally, we also look forward to furthering our participation on this issue through our Building Bridges with Basketball campaign and our Community Conversation events."
“It was I think important to let the players know that we were behind them as a coaching staff,” Walton echoed. “The front office and ownership came down and let them know we’d support whatever the players decided to do, and as a group, the players decided that was the way they wanted to show that something needs to be done about what’s happening and kind of do it together. So that was their decision.”
The Lakers are surely aware that linking arms alone won’t solve the problems in the United States, but the organization and the NBA as a whole not making an effort to silence or shy away from social issues continues to make it one of the most progressive organizations in all of sports.
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