Perhaps looking to avoid the NFL's public relations crisis, the NBA told their players this weekend they must stand for the national anthem in line with the organization's rules.
In a memo sent out to the entire association on Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reminded teams of the rules requiring them to stand for the national anthem and that he expects those rules followed. Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum also suggested teams use their opening games “to demonstrate your commitment to the NBA’s core values of equality, diversity, inclusion and serve as a unifying force in the community.”
Neither Tatum nor Silver want players to withhold their political opinions, they just don't want them expressing them during The Star-Spangled Banner, sung before most, if not all, NBA games.
“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. (Teams do not have the discretion to waive this rule),” the memo says.
The memo follows an NBA Board of Governors discussion this week on how to handle the national anthem controversy in light of the NFL's troubles. The football league has hemorrhaged fans and seen a dramatic ratings decline as players, coaches and team administrators embrace social justice.
The NBA suggests that players who want to work for social justice form community organizations or work with local non-profits. “The players have embraced their roles in those efforts and we are proud of the work they do in our communities,” Tatum wrote.
The NBA will also host forums for players, coaches, and other leadership so that they can discuss pressing political issues.