If any NBA players want to follow in Colin Kaepernick's footsteps and kneel during the national anthem this season, they could be subject to discipline from the league.
Citing the league's rule stating players must stand for the anthem, NBA commissioner, "My expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem."
Now, the NBA has sent a memo (the existence of which CBS Sports can confirm via league sources) to teams reinforcing the league's expectation that players stand for the national anthem. Specifically, the league wanted to clarify to teams that they are not able to waive the rule for any of their players, and the league will handle any discipline should a player not stand for the anthem. Via ESPN:
The NBA league office late Friday sent a memo to teams reinforcing the rule that players and coaches must stand for the national anthem, and suggesting other ways in which teams might address the recent protest movement sweeping across the NFL and other sports, according to a copy of the memo obtained by ESPN.
The memo, distributed by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, instructs teams that "the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem." The memo states that individual teams "do not have the discretion to waive" the rule that players, coaches, and staff must stand for the anthem. The league has the discretion to discipline players who violate the rule.
In addition, the memo outlined alternative measures, such as pre-game videos, PSAs, or an address to the crowd by a player or coach that teams could use to promote unity.
In the memo, Tatum suggests teams might address the current political climate by having players and coaches give a joint pregame address. "This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season," the memo states. The memo also suggests teams might prepare a video tribute or public service announcement featuring "team leadership speaking about the issues they care about."
Should a player or team decide to protest during the anthem, it will be quite interesting to see how the NBA handles it, and what punishment it decides to hand out.