Dallas Mavericks players are having discussions about making some type of silent statement to express their views against racial injustice in light of national anthem protests.
To what degree and when that statement will occur hasn’t been determined.
“I know people have their own opinions on this issue and it definitely is an issue nonetheless, and we’re going to handle it the right way,” shooting guard Wesley Matthews said. “Not to say that kneeling is a bad thing, not saying that the protest is a bad thing.
... I know that we’ll have the support to voice what we feel we want to voice, but we’re going to do it as a unit and we’re going to do it communicating with each other.
Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews, on what form a national anthem protest may take
“I don’t think there’s ever the perfect time to make a stand and protest and all that kind of stuff, but I think, with this organization, I know that we’ll have the support to voice what we feel we want to voice, but we’re going to do it as a unit and we’re going to do it communicating with each other.
“Not one person is just going to go out there, and everybody else doesn’t know what’s going on, and I think that’s just really is going to embody this team and what this team is going to be about.”
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the debate over the protests when he sat during the anthem in preseason games before changing to kneeling on one knee. Kaepernick said he was protesting the oppression of people of color and issues with police brutality in the United States.
That practice resonated through several teams on many levels across the country. The DeSoto High School girls volleyball team knelt and locked arms before a game last week.
The NBA is studying the issue too.
“Everybody has their freedom of speech in this country; that’s why we all love this country,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki, who was born and raised in Germany. “So I think it’s definitely started a discussion, and I think as preseason goes along and we have meetings with the team about stuff, what we want to do or how can we contribute to making this world a better place, we’ll come up with a solution.
... It’s definitely something that’s started a discussion in every locker room and it’s probably a good thing.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, on the debate over making a national anthem protest
“I think if we do something we want the whole team to be on the same page. It’s definitely something that’s started a discussion in every locker room and it’s probably a good thing.”
New Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes played his previous four seasons with the Golden State Warriors in the same Bay Area as Kaepernick.
“They came to some games, but I didn’t have like a personal relationship with him,” Barnes said of the 49ers players. “In terms of his message, I support obviously what he’s standing for.
“Personally, black people is never an easy topic to talk about. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and it does need to be changed about that.”
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Center Andrew Bogut, who spent the past four seasons playing for the Warriors, has no issues with what Kapernick is trying to project.
“I think this is a country that prides itself on free speech, so if somebody, Kapernick, they want to do that, it’s more in their right,” said Bogut, who is from Australia.
“On a personal level for me, I know there’s a lot of history here that goes centuries back, which I cannot really relate to too much growing up in Australia.
“We had our issues down there, but being around obviously a lot of African-American teammates I’m kind of being more and more educated about it throughout my career. But in the same sentence it’s hard for me.’’
It’s difficult for Bogut because he knows that the opportunities this country has provided him have set him up to be financially free.
“American has been a place that’s let me live my dream and play NBA basketball at the highest level, and make a boatload of money doing something that I love doing,’’ Bogut said. “I understand from the African-American point of view and our teammates’ point of view if they did want to stand and be a part of that kind of protest.
“But at the same time I’m thankful – America has provided a lot for myself and my family, so it’s a tough one for me. I’m very supportive of my teammates, but at the same time I think this country, much like Australia, is built on free speech. Everyone has an opinion on different types of things, everyone has a right to do what they feel is right.’’
None of the Mavericks are in favor of a protest that sparks violence.
Owner Mark Cuban briefly discussed the national anthem debate with his team before taking off for Hempstead. N.Y., for Monday night’s presidential debate.
“He just came in real quick and said a few words and welcomed everybody and hit a few topics, and that was one of them as well,” Nowitzki said. “But there was really not much time spent on it.
“I think once [training] camp starts and we have more and more meetings and stuff and games come closer, I think there’s going to be some more discussion.”
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle emphasized the team approach to the issue.
"Mark gave his views," Carlisle said. "We're going to be 100 percent supportive of our guys with whatever they decide to do. We don't know what our guys are going to do at this particular point in time, but my feeling is our right to protest can bring important attention to the necessity for change.
"My further view is that protest backed by persistence and action always provides the best chance for meaningful change. It's a time where people need to communicate, people need to talk. That's why I was really glad that Mark was here today to have this discussion with our guys, just to let them know we were going to be behind them."
Where those discussions take the Mavericks, they don’t know for sure at this time.
“In terms of the whole national anthem protest, I think that’s an individual thing,’’ Barnes said. “We as a team haven’t decided whether we’re going to do something on that.
“I think, as Dirk was saying earlier, I think whatever we’re going to do we’re going to do it in unity. But there definitely needs to be change.’’
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Mavericks vs. Pelicans
7 p.m. Saturday (Exhibition opener, Bossier City, La.)