Now-retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant said Sunday that if he was still playing basketball he would have followed in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps and take a knee during the national anthem.
Bryant, speaking to The Undefeated’s Jemele Hill, said he still would have protested despite the backlash.
“Yeah, I would have participated in it, for sure,” Bryant said. “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.”
Bryant said the wave of unpopularity that hit the NFL over the protests would not occur 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,” he said. “I think we understand this is a free country. I think we have the right to peaceful protest.”
Bryant said that’s what the American flag stands for, “the ability to voice your opinion.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said prior to the start of the 2017-18 season that he expected players to stand for the national anthem
NBA rules require players to stand for the anthem. Silver said the playing of the national anthem has always been a time for respect and reflection — even in a league where 25 percent of the players are not American — and recalled that many teams locked arms last season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.