Carmelo Anthony gave Colin Kaepernick advice the day that the San Francisco 49ers quarterback first sat down for the national anthem. In an extensive interview with The Undefeated's Howard Bryant about race in America and finding his voice, the New York Knicks forward revealed that he encouraged Kaepernick to keep protesting and explain why he was doing it:
HB: Whatever gestures you decide to make this season in support of your message, as a team or individually, what do you expect the reaction to be?
CA: The NBA is very supportive. They want to team up with us and be behind it, but at the end of the day it's still a corporation, so there's only so far that they're going to let you go. And one gesture's not going to change anything. So regardless of if we stand out there and put our arms around each other to show unity and solidarity, on the flip side, at the moment somebody goes out there and puts their fist up, that's going to be something different.
Colin Kaepernick sat down. That caused a different reaction. And people didn't even know why he was doing it. They just thought it was disrespectful to the actual soldiers and people who fought for the country, and it had nothing to do with that.
HB: Have you spoken to Colin at all? What was your initial reaction when you saw it?
CA: I spoke to him that night. He reached out to me that night. And I'm watching and I'm like, "OK." Like, "What's next?" In a very respectful way, he was like, "I took this step and, you know, just wanted to get your thoughts on what's happening." And I said, "Well, you're courageous." I said, "You just showed a lot of courage in what you just did, but now is the hard part because you have to keep it going. So if that was just a one-time thing, then you're [f---ed]. But now you keep it going and be articulate and elaborate on why you're doing it, and be educated and knowledgeable of why you're doing it so when people ask, you can stand up for what you believe in and really let them hear why."
Throughout the interview, Anthony says "the system is broken" multiple times. He discusses police brutality, but says that isn't his only concern: "You haven't seen one thing about schools closing. There's no rec centers. You haven't seen none of that on the news. All you see is police killing people. And if I'm sitting there watching that every day all day, I'm going to feel a certain kind of way. Like, against the police. If it was showing schools and why they shut them down and there's no funding for this and no funding for that, you would feel a certain way about that too."
As if it hasn't been abundantly clear the past few months, Anthony feels a responsibility to speak about the problems he sees in his country and is comfortable doing so. When Kaepernick reached out to him, he advised him to use his platform the same way. This interview is as open and thoughtful as Anthony has been publicly, and maybe it will serve as an example for other athletes who aren't sure what to say.