Nothing is changing for now.
The Miami Heat, like it did all of last season, will continue to lock arms during the playing of the national anthem as their way of taking a stand against social and racial injustice.
“We are an organization that honors the military, honor the flag, honor our soldiers that have committed their lives for this country,” coach Erik Spoelstra said before Sunday’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Hawks. “We also want our players to absolutely have a voice for the displeasure of what they’re seeing around the country. And we encourage our guys to express themselves absolutely in the right way.”
The NBA issued a memo Friday to teams reinforcing its rule players and coaches stand for the national anthem and suggesting other ways in which they might address the recent protest movement in the NFL and other sports.
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The memo, according to ESPN, informed teams “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.” It also reminded teams that they “do not have the discretion to waive the rule” and the league has the discretion to discipline players who violate the rule.
“We just kind of talked about it briefly,” said Wayne Ellington, the Heat’s player rep. “It was just a quick talk. [Locking arms is] what we’re going to do for now. If guys feel any different type of way, we’ll come together again and talk about it again and see what we want to do.
“Like I said, we’ll kind of just get a feel for it. It’s just preseason. We’ll see how it goes.”
Last year, before a preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets, a young woman who sang the Star-Spangled Banner kneeled at midcourt and opened her jacket to display a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter.”
Spoelstra said while the Heat respects “what other players are doing even in other leagues right now,” the appropriate action is to stand for the anthem.
“It is really just such an uncomfortable time where all of us feel that there is a call and a need for action for what we’re seeing that we don’t think is right,” Spoelstra said. “But we want to do it the best, most successful way.”
Ellington said he’s not sure if Heat players will express themselves in other ways as the regular season nears.
“Personally I don't know if you get much out of it,” he said. “But I think locking arms and just showing that we’re together is good. I think that’s a step in the right direction.”