Adam Silver Thinks A Rule Will Make Players Stand For The Anthem

    The rise of player protests against racial injustice has presented a problem for money-driven league commissioners and owners. An age of enlightenment, social activism and unified awareness concerning police brutality and racial inequality is flourishing in pro sports and motivating Black athletes to finally understand the magnitude of their power and use it to challenge the outdated and oppressive status quo and form of financial and psychological control that has been prevalent in pro sports.  

    Since Colin Kaepernick took a knee and even before that with the Black Live Matter Movement and players expressing their social and political views on traditional sports platforms such as The ESPYs, the game has changed and league execs and owners are scrambling to find a way to regain control of the minds and bodies of their players.


                                                 (Getty Images)

    The NBA  players and coaches have been vocal with their feelings about the comments made recently by President Donald Trump regarding the NFL’s national anthem protests and more importantly the oppression and violence perpetrated upon black males in this country by law enforcement and the subsequent racist responses that have been so common, painting our country in the ugliest light that we have seen in a half century. 

    With this rise in kneeling for the anthem, a new responsibility has been placed on the league’s commissioners to squash this revolution without appearing oppressive, racist or inflexible to the changing times and the predominantly black players that comprise their leagues. The acknowledgement of America needing a serious change in attitude has spread to baseball and even hockey
    and NASCAR, notoriously venomous environments for black athletes.  

    In light of all of this, which appears to have no immediate ending in sight, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he doesn’t expect to see any players kneeling during the national anthem before games.

    “My expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem,” Commissioner Adam Silver said, citing a long-standing league rule.

    John Marshall on Twitter

    Adam Silver, #NBA commissioner, lays down law, says players will #stand – Washington Times -How its done @nflcommish

    Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule that expressly prohibits kneeling during the playing of the national anthem:

    Players, coaches, and trainers must be present, stand, and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines during the playing of the American and/or Canadian national anthems.

    View image on Twitter

    Silver seems to be a bit overconfident. Various headlines stating that he is Laying Down The Law are a bit obnoxious and out-of-touch with whats going on. In fact, his comments express a certain offensive audacity. Citing league rules in an attempt to avoid controversy, minimize how players feel about racism, illegal shootings and the like,  and return things to business as usual doesnt seem like a strategy that will work. 

    The players have shown that they are willing to fight for what they believe in and they feel that change is important enough to risk their own livelihoods. 

    Citing some league rules seems like another scare tactic and a threat, but when you’re most high profile players and money making machines are leading the protests,  control tactics and  threats dont have as huge of an impact because it’s the same as biting the hand that feeds you. And its quite hypocritical. Silver acted swiftly and forcefully when he forced ex-Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team following a scandal in which Sterling was secretly recorded using racial epithets and offensive language about blacks. 

    Now, in the midst of this historical time, Silver expects a league rule to temper the groundswell of emotion and passion that players share for the intended purpose of these protests. 

    It seems laughable and the strategy stinks. Didnt Donald Trump and several owners in the major sports already try to threaten players into not protesting? The WNBA tried to control its players by fining them back in July of 2016 for expressing themselves by altering their uniforms. They still protested before  Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. The list goes on and player of all ethnicities are being inspired to stand in solidarity and against racism, division and hate. 


                      (Getty Images)

    The rule Silver is intending to control the NBA players with was tested by the-Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996, when he made the decision to sit during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The NBA suspended Abdul-Rauf for one game, and when he returned he stood for the anthem, but closed his eyes and prayed silently into his hands. The real story is how sitting for the anthem led to Abdul-Rauf eventually being blackballed from the NBA. Its the same thing that happened to Kapernick. 

    The difference between then and now is the fact that Abdul-Rauf stood alone in his protest and it was during an era where Michael Jordan and the exploitation of blacks and the refusal for athletes to get involved in social issue were at a peak. Today, the NBA would have no league if Silver attempted to suspend a Lebron James, Steph Curry or any of his big ballers for protesting. 

    AJ+ on Twitter

    20 years before Colin Kaepernick, NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf made a similar protest. How far have we come?

    Silvers comments show that he still doesnt understand the magnitude of whats happening. He doesn’t understand that things will never return to normal. A new philosophy and approach has to be accepted regarding protests and players expressing themselves and choosing to no longer ignore the foul treatment of African-Americans in this country or derogatory comments from its failing President. 

    What was Silver thinking? Inciting, challenging and threatening players will only lead to more defiance and protests at this point. I hope LeBron and the boys dont go for this and let the commissioner know on opening night, who truly calls the shots. All Silver did was throw a gas can into a burning building, setting up an NBA showdown and power struggle for the ages.  

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.