The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz are planning a joint protest during the national anthem ahead of their matchup on Thursday night, the first of the NBA restart, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
The Pelicans and Jazz, per the report, are planning to surround the “Black Lives Matter” phrase written on the court at Walt Disney World on Thursday night and kneel together during the national anthem.
Both Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and Jazz coach Quin Snyder, along with their assistants, are expected to join in, too.
The goal is to display a united front, per Andrews, rather than simply kneeling separately.
The first of many demonstrations
The protest on Thursday night is expected to be the first of many that will take place throughout the league restart in Florida.
Eight teams staying in the same hotel at Disney World, including the Jazz, met last week to discuss how to protest together in their respective opening nights. The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers — who will square off after the Pelicans and Jazz on Thursday — were part of that meeting, and will likely kneel during the anthem, too.
NBA policy still requires that players stand during the playing of the national anthem, though the league isn’t expected to enforce that rule, per the report. NBA commissioner Adam Silver sounded supportive of the protests last month, though didn’t specify how the league would handle such protests in Florida.
Players inside the bubble have been increasingly vocal about social justice issues. Many will wear social justice statements on the back of their jerseys in place of their last name, and several — including LeBron James — have used their media availability to speak out about Breonna Taylor’s death earlier this year.
While it’s not yet clear how widespread protesting during the national anthem will be, it sounds like it’ll be front and center at least for the start of the season.
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