OAKLAND, Calif. — After the Golden State Warriors lost 108-102 to the Denver Nuggets in a preseason opener on Saturday evening, the essential question asked at postgame availability was why the team elected not to participate in a protest demonstration prior to tip-off.
“I think we’ve done enough,” Andre Iguodala told ESPN. “We talked about how we’ve done enough and how we’re going about things a certain way. We feel like our voices are being heard.”
Their opponents, the Nuggets, all locked arms.
Draymond Green said the team didn’t have a discussion on if peacefully protesting during the national anthem was the right call. The Warriors have been the most vocal team in the association when advocating for racial equality and condemning the acts and rhetoric of President Donald Trump.
If there was going to be an NBA team that kneeled, the Warriors would have been the favorites to do so.
“We said what we had to say,” Green said. “Everyone knows where we stand. We don’t need to do anything else to show where we stand. Everyone knows where we stand.”
NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum sent a memo to all 30 teams on Friday reminding them of the guidelines that require each player, coach and training staff to stand for the anthem. And if they do not, a form of discipline would be in order.
Many wondered how the players would react to this sudden reminder, especially the outspoken Warriors.
“That rule has been in there for some time, so it wasn’t meant to prevent anything,” Iguodala said to ESPN. So, when you look at it from that standpoint, you understand that’s just the rule. It’s like having a drug test. You just have to comply with it.”
Although the NFL highly encourages its players to stand for the anthem, it is not a written mandate. That’s why quarterback Colin Kaepernick couldn’t be penalized when he started the kneeling protest last season while with the San Francisco 49ers.
“It’s a strong statement because [Kaepernick] did it, but that’s not a rule that the NFL has,” Iguodala said. “So, he was able to make a stand within the rules. So, I feel like that’s their thing. If we were to make an NBA stand, we would make a stand that’s within the rules, but also at the right time.”
Green said just because his team is not following the NFL players’ method of bringing attention to social injustice, doesn’t mean he disagrees with their action.
“I think people make what they want out of [kneeling],” he said. “I think it’s at a point now where everybody knows. The conversation started. It’s about capitalizing on that and trying to make things better now. Kaep made the statement a year ago. I don’t knock anybody for doing what they do or what they feel they need to do. But, I think the conversation has started at this point. The more you make gestures or this and that, that becomes the conversation and that’s beside the point.”
Iguodala says they clearly have more work to do in this country, and he cited Trump’s tweet directed at Stephen Curry and the franchise.
“I looked at it today. It was funny. Trump’s tweet on Steph, that thing got like, I don’t know how many thousands of likes. So that’s what I saw. I was like, people don’t even realize how many likes he got for saying Steph, you can’t come to the White House. Do you know how many people that is out there? I think, we need to focus on stuff like that. He had like 200,000 likes. Something stupid. Like, y’all actually agree with that?”
Head coach Steve Kerr said whatever the players decided to do when it came to protesting methods, the organization would have supported them. He said them choosing not to doesn’t take away from how strongly they feel about making a positive change.
“Our guys, I think, have made their feelings pretty clear about things that are happening and I’m very proud of the work they do in the community,” Kerr said. “It’s amazing the number of good deeds our players do. I think from my perspective anyway, I think the discussion is going on out there. There’s a lot of back and forth. We don’t need to please anybody, because no matter what we do, we’re going to take criticism. So, we don’t really care what anybody says. If our guys were to kneel, people would say why are you kneeling. Tonight, maybe they say why weren’t you kneeling. It’s about us. I’m very proud of their words and their deeds. At some point, we just got to play basketball and as long as we continue to work and compete and they’re contributing to society in a lot of great ways, then that should be enough.”
Everyone, apparently, was in agreement on Saturday. Now, the focus is what’s next?
“I think we’re going about it the right way and we’ll continue to do things that shed light on the situation that our people are in and we’ll continue to help those that are less fortunate through various ways,” Iguodala said. “We’re going to try to do something as a group, as a team.”