- Andy Lyons/Getty
- When the 2017-18 NBA season started, LeBron James said he would stand for the national anthem.
- According to one report, the NBA league office breathed a sigh of relief because James’ words carry weight in the league and other players were likely to follow his lead.
- While commissioner Adam Silver said he expected players to stand, the NBA didn’t have any players protesting during the national anthem.
At the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, while giving a stirring address about the state of the nation, LeBron James said he would stand for the national anthem.
James had complimented NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for the message he sent by kneeling during the national anthem but said he would not take part.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, that was a big relief to the NBA front office. Lowe said on Bill Simmons’ podcast that James’ declaration had an impact on the rest of the league.
“When LeBron says something, that’s a huge deal to the NBA,” Lowe said. “When LeBron came out before the season and said, ‘I’m gonna stand for the anthem,’ everyone in the NBA league office was like ‘[sigh of relief] All the players will just do what LeBron says.”
James’ comments in September had come at a time when the issue was a large one for the NBA. The NFL was going through a crisis over protests during the national anthem, sparked by comments by President Donald Trump, and many wondered if the NBA would see similar actions.
In September, days after James’ comments, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he expected players to stand during the anthem.
The issue died down in the NBA before it ever really grew legs. While some NBA teams linked arms during the anthem, there weren’t instances of players sitting or kneeling.