LOS ANGELES: NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry voiced support for Colin Kaepernick on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) but said they had no plans to emulate the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s national anthem protest.
Cleveland Cavaliers icon James, who is regularly outspoken on social issues and gun violence, said he admired Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Kaepernick has drawn a firestorm of criticism for his protest against social injustice and racial inequality, with critics branding him unpatriotic or worse for his stance.
The quarterback’s protest has been taken up by several other athletes from different sports. The NBA has a league rule which requires players to stand for the national anthem.
The league last week said it was working with players to determine how they could take “meaningful action” as issues of race and social injustice spilled into the sporting landscape after the killings of two black men by law enforcement in Oklahoma and North Carolina.
James said he would continue to stand for the national anthem while backing Kaepernick.
“I’m all in favor of anyone athlete or non-athlete being able to express what they believe in in a peaceful manner and that’s exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing and I respect that,” James said during Cavs’ media day.
“I think you guys know when I’m passionate about something I’ll speak up on it, so me standing for the national anthem is something I will do, that’s who I am, that’s what I believe in. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing. You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and he’s doing it in the most peaceful way I’ve ever seen someone do something.
“I don’t have the answer. None of us have the answer, but the more times we can talk about it, the more times we can conversate about it. Because I’m not up here saying all police are bad because they’re not. I’m not up here saying that all kids are great and all adults are great, because they’re not. But at the same time all lives do matter. It’s not black or white, it’s not that. It’s everyone, so, it’s just tough being a parent right now when you have a pre-teen.”
James, a father of three, admitted he feared for the safety of his own children when he watched videos of police shootings of black men.
“You see these videos that continue to come out, it’s a (scary) situation that if my son calls me and said if he got pulled over, that I’m not that confident that things are gonna go well and my son is going to return home,” James said. “My son just started the sixth grade.”
Curry meanwhile echoed James’ position, describing Kaepernick’s protest as “bold.”
“I respect everybody’s voice, everybody’s platform,” Curry said at the Warriors media day.
“(Kaepernick) took a bold step to continue the conversation and make it more poignant, but I do plan on standing.”