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All players, coaches kneel before NBA games

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ByReuters
31/07/2020 at 01:53 | Updated 31/07/2020 at 01:54

Every person present at HP Fieldhouse on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando knelt during the national anthem before the first game of the NBA's restarted season on Thursday night.

All players, coaches and staff members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah
Jazz, along with all officials, wore shirts reading "BLACK LIVES MATTER,"
which was also printed on the court. Many locked arms with those next to them,
while some players raised fists in the air.

The players and coaches on the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers
also knelt prior to Thursday night's later game at The Arena on the Wide World
of Sports campus.

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The anthem before the Jazz-Pelicans game was performed virtually by Louisiana
native Jon Batiste, who played a rendition with a mix of piano and guitar.

Before the anthem, the TNT broadcast aired an introductory segment narrated by
rapper Meek Mill, promoting social justice initiatives and the BLM movement,
followed by a segment with several NBA players speaking on the subject.

Players displayed a variety of social justice messages on the backs of their
jerseys, including "Black Lives Matter," "Say Their Names" and "I Can't
Breathe."

The game was the first in four-plus months since the regular season was
suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Again at the Lakers-Clippers game, various players had social justice messages
on the backs of their uniforms. Lakers star LeBron James passed on the option
and went with his last name.

The Compton Kidz Club sang the national anthem through a video feed before the
Clippers faced the Lakers.

The Pelicans issued a statement that read, "The New Orleans Pelicans stand by
the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest.
Collectively with the Utah Jazz, our organization joins the NBA in supporting
our players and coaches. To promote meaningful change relative to social
justice and racial equality, the New Orleans Pelicans have partnered with our
players, staff and coaches to create a Social Justice Leadership Alliance
committed to furthering the discussion, listening and taking action to make
positive change in our community and our country."

The Jazz wrote in a statement, "The Utah Jazz are committed to advancing
social justice and stand in support of the players, coaches and staff as they
exercise their First Amendment rights, and use their voices, their
experiences, and their platforms to peacefully express themselves. We are a
values-based organization and believe in the foundational principles of
justice, equality, fairness, and economic empowerment. Our organization
strives to be a unifying force in our communities, and we hope this time in
our history can be a catalyst for positive change in a country we love."

--Field Level Media

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