ORLANDO, Fla. — The San Antonio Spurs have yet to discuss any potential national anthem demonstrations, but players expect the topic to come up before they take the floor Friday.
The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz are set to tip off the first games that count in the Disney Bubble on Thursday, and reports indicate that both teams will kneel around Black Lives Matter on the court for the anthem.
At practice on Wednesday, Lonnie Walker IV and DeMar DeRozan answered questions about that demonstration, and what could be in store for San Antonio.
Both Walker and DeRozan said that they haven't discussed it yet, but they support what the other teams are doing and expect to talk about what they'll do as a group before their game against the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
"It's a great message, I'm super excited for the fact that we're using our platform in the right way," said Walker, who will wear Black Lives Matter on his jersey. "God has given us this talent to allow us to support our message the right way."
"We haven't (talked about it) yet, but I'm pretty sure we're gonna take our stance and pick out what's something we can make a statement with," DeRozan said.
"I respect and appreciate those two teams, and I'm pretty sure there are going to be other teams that come together, that do something as well during the national anthem," DeRozan said, adding that the players aren't just in Orlando to play basketball, they're there to raise awareness about pressing social issues.
The specific way they'll demonstrate remains to be seen.
"We're gonna see what we have to do as a team, we haven't really talked about it yet, but I'm pretty sure it will pop up," Walker said. "We have Coach Pop, who's probably one of the most woke players - woke people - in the league itself."
Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich is well-known as an outspoken voice on issues of social justice. He's also the head coach of Team USA, and he graduated from the Air Force Academy. In 2016, Pop commented on Kaepernick's protest.
"A pretty good group of people immediately thought he was disrespecting the military. That had nothing to do with his protest. In fact, he was able to do what he did because of what the military does for us," Popovich said then. "Most thinking people understand that."
More recently, Popovich spoke to the New York Times and had harsh words for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding his response to Kaepernick's protest.
“A smart man is running the NFL and he didn’t understand the difference between the flag and what makes the country great — all the people who fought to allow Kaepernick to have the right to kneel for justice,” Popovich said. “The flag is irrelevant. It’s just a symbol that people glom onto for political reasons.”
DeRozan shared that frustration that the purpose of the protest has been misunderstood by many Americans for years.
"Over the last few years since Colin Kaepernick took a knee and expressed why he was taking a knee, and other athletes as well being on the front lines of explaining it, you're seeing why players are doing things like taking a knee."
"That's the frustrating part more than anything, it's been said thousands and thousands of times since Colin Kaepernick took the knee, and why guys continue to take the knee, it's not to disrespect the flag, it's for all the injustices that we've been going through this whole time, before our time," DeRozan said. "It's something that we're trying to make a change about."