Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said Thursday that the organization has made no official decision regarding any effort by the club’s players to stage a coordinated protest gesture on the issue of police violence.
Responding to media questions on the subject earlier this week, point guard Jeremy Lin said he was considering how to react but wanted to explore the issue further with teammates.
“I think it’s great that Jeremy said that, if they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it as a team,” Atkinson said. “I think we encourage our players to stand for the national anthem, but we also respect their individual rights. Jeremy coming out and saying that, I respect that and I respect his stance. But we’ll figure out how the players approach it.”
Ever since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem as a gesture of peaceful protest, a growing number of professional athletes have followed suit. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony recently expressed his desire to speak out in some way and received support from the organization.
It’s a similar situation with the Nets. Referring to general manager Sean Marks, Atkinson said, “Our message is we encourage our guys to stand for the national anthem, but we also respect their rights. I think Sean and I and our organization are on the same page with that.”
When Lin spoke on media day this week, he indicated interest in a team-wide gesture rather than by him individually. “The one thing that I will make sure is I don’t want to do anything alone,” Lin said. “I want something to be united. I want there to be solidarity because I don’t want it to be X versus Y, or Group A versus Group B versus Group C or whatever. If I do anything, I would want to be behind a stand of unity because I think that’s what we need. That’s what I think our nation needs right now.”
That discussion between Lin and his teammates likely will be toward the end of training camp when the makeup of the team is settled and they approach the regular season. For now, Atkinson said, “There hasn’t been any official decision.”