NBA great Kobe Bryant insisted he would have protested during the United States national anthem if he was still playing.
Before the season, the NBA sent a memo to its teams emphasising the rule requiring players stand for the national anthem will be enforced.
If Bryant were still in the league, he would take the Colin Kaepernick approach to the rule and protest.
“Yeah, I would have participated in [a protest], for sure,” Bryant told The Undefeated.
“I’m sure I would have gotten some flak for it. That’s fine. I think that Colin’s message was a very simple one. It was police brutality needs to stop; we need to take a look at that.”
Kaepernick has been jobless since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers last March. He became a controversial figure when he began kneeling during the national anthem last August to protest police brutality against people of colour and other racial injustices.
Several NFL players followed Kaepernick’s lead by either kneeling, sitting, or raising a fist during the anthem. Players like Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, Philadelphia Eagles corner Malcolm Jenkins and 49ers safety Eric Reid continued their protests this past season.
Bryant, who openly criticised USA president Donald Trump after his “sons of b******” comments in September about protesting NFL players, thinks Kaepernick’s movement has a place in the NBA.
“From my experience in the locker room, it doesn’t seem like any of the players that I played with certainly would have had an issue with that,” Bryant said. “I think we understand this is a free country. I think we have the right to peaceful protest.
“And by the way, from my point of view, that’s what the flag represents as well. The ability to speak. The ability to voice your opinion. And everybody is entitled to that. So everybody getting up in arms about it, they’re certainly in their right to do that, as we’re certainly in our right to protest – peacefully at that.”