An Oklahoma lawmaker warned Oklahoma City Thunder players not to kneel during the national anthem ahead of the team’s first game against Utah Jazz on Saturday (Aug. 1). In a statement, Rep. Sean Roberts said the state may “need to reexamine” the tax benefits granted to the NBA team, should athletes take part in the #TakeAKnee peaceful protest.
“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families,” the republican politician wrote.
“If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024.
“Perhaps these funds would be better served in support of our police departments rather than giving tax breaks to an organization that supports defunding police and the dissolution of the American nuclear family,” Robert concluded.
Despite the politicians’ threats, many Thunder and Jazz players wore Black Lives Matter shirts and took a knee before the start of the game.
“It was special,” Thunder point guard and NBPA President Paul told reporters, per Thunder Wire. “To be able to do that together — as a team — and to do it right there in front of ‘Black Lives Matter’... As players, we had a lot of conversations about coming down here, the bigger reasons of what we’re playing for. So, to do it on a united front was nice.”
The Jazz and Thunder players’ peaceful protests followed similar displays from several other teams during the NBA’s opening games on Thursday (July 30) and Friday (July 31). The league also recently allowed athletes to wear a variety of social justice statements on their jerseys.
See the teams protest police brutality below.