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Jazz Players Discussing Plan To Kneel During National Anthem

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz stands for the National Anthem prior to the start of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on February 12, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz players plan to kneel during the national anthem prior to tipping off against the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game of the NBA’s restart.

The Jazz and Pelicans are scheduled to play in the league’s first official game since March 11, when they play on Thursday, July 30 at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.

According to LA Times reporter Brad Turner, the Jazz are one of many teams that plan to kneel during opening game anthems.

“One of the 1st oncourt actions will be kneeling opening night,” an anonymous player reportedly told Turner.

Turner reported that in addition to the Jazz, the following teams, who are staying in the same hotel as Utah, are planning to kneel during the national anthem “on opening nights of the season.”

  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Boston Celtics
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Miami Heat

In recent years, players from the NFL and USWNT have knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and social injustice. In July, players from MLS, NWSL, and MLB have knelt prior to the start of games as well.

Guard Jordan Clarkson confirmed the Jazz had discussed kneeling during the anthem, but haven’t finalized a plan.

“We did meet about that,” Clarkson confirmed. “I’m not sure if we’re gonna kneel, but we are doing something during the national anthem that is sending a message. We’ve not said if we’re kneeling or not. We did talk about it. It was a conversation. But, we are doing something.”

Center Tony Bradley echoed Clarkson’s statement.

“I think we’re still in the process of figuring out what we’re going to do,” Bradley said. “I didn’t hear anything about the different players meeting. But I know us as a team, we’re still discussing the plans before the game.”

NBA and Social Justice Efforts

During the league’s hiatus, the NBA and its players have been discussing ways to use the restart of the 2019-20 season to further social justice efforts.

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and other players recently met with NBA officials to “address the game’s role in facilitating solutions to the persistent inequities plaguing the Black community.”

The NBPA released a statement following the meeting and said that “while specific plans were not finalized, there was broad alignment about the direction and priorities of the efforts, especially with regard to supporting players’ activism and leadership.”

“Just as we are fighting a pandemic, which is impacting communities and people of color more than anyone else, we are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote in the memo.

One way players can use the league’s start as a platform for creating awareness in relation to social justice is by changing the last name on the back of their jerseys into a league-approved message.

Jazz players such as Rudy Gobert, Jordan Clarkson, and Tony Bradley plan to swap their last names in exchange for the words “Equality” and “Peace.”

NBA Restart In Orlando

Starting on July 30, 22 NBA teams, including the Jazz, will finish the 2019-20 regular season with an eight-game schedule. After that, 16 teams (eight from each conference) will start the NBA Playoffs.

Games will be played at Disney World and no fans will be in attendance.

The Jazz will restart the season against the New Orleans Pelicans on July 30 at 4:30 p.m (MDT). The game will be televised on TNT and AT&T SportsNet.

Utah’s second scrimmage prior to the restart will be against the Miami Heat on Saturday, July 25 at 2 p.m. (MDT). The game will broadcast on tape delay at 7 p.m. (MDT) on AT&T SportsNet and League Pass.