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Report: Jazz And Pelicans Will Kneel During National Anthem

A large American flag was unfurled during the playing of the National Anthem in the first half of Game Three during the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs between the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 20, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans plan to kneel during the national anthem. The two teams will reopen the NBA season on Thursday after a four and a half month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to ESPN, both teams will gather around the Black Live Matter signage painted at midcourt where they will kneel before the game.

Before restarting the NBA season, league players discussed finding ways to show their support in the fight for social justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The two sides agreed to display the phrase, Black Lives Matter, on the courts during the remainder of the season while wearing phrases on their jerseys that support specific social causes.

League commissioner Adam Silver said he supports the league’s players’ right to peacefully protest during an appearance on Good Morning America.

“The NBA has had a rule on its books that preceded David Stern which was standing for the national anthem,” Silver said. “Having said that, I respect peaceful protest. I am not sure what tour players will do when they come out tomorrow night and we’ll of course address it at the time. But I also understand these are highly unusual times.”

The teams’ coaches will reportedly join the players in kneeling at midcourt.

Jazz Player On Decision To Kneel

Last week, Jazz players have said they had discussed what they hoped to do during the anthem to show support for the fight for social justice but hadn’t settled on a plan.

“I’m not sure if we’re gonna kneel,” Guard Jordan Clarkson said. “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.”

Beyond kneeling, Silver said the league plans to continue to use the league to help further the messaging in support of social change.

“It was very important then as we came together to think about what we could to do to use this platform to affect change.” Silver said. “I think messaging is just part of it, as images show on the court, it says Black Lives Matter on the floor, plus players will be wearing messages on their jerseys. But beyond that, we’re working collectively, the 30 NBA teams, on a foundation dedicated to economic empowerment specifically focused on Black Americans.”

The Jazz and Pelicans tipoff on Thursday at 4:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast on TNT and AT&T SportsNet.