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#pounditTuesday, June 6, 2023

Clippers owner would have backed kneeling players during anthem

Steve Ballmer

No NBA players have knelt during the national anthem since Colin Kaepernick began doing it in the NFL, but one owner would have backed any players who wanted to.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer told Yahoo Finance that, had any of his players wished to kneel during the anthem, he would have backed them.

“I think on that one, we had clear rules. I would have supported our guys, I would have been okay with whatever they wanted to do,” Ballmer said, via Daniel Roberts of Yahoo Finance. “But the rule was clear that you need to stand for the national anthem, and if you don’t, there’s consequences, and our players all knew that.”

Indeed, the NBA has long had a rule in place that dictates players must stand for the anthem, and no effort has been made to change it. Ballmer believes that’s because players have better ways to make their feelings known, such as the political action speech made by four star players to open the 2016 ESPYs.

“I think our players have better avenues to express themselves,” Ballmer said. “I thought [that speech] was awesome … Our players are adults, they have a right to an opinion, and they have a right to participate in the political debate.”

Ballmer and the Clippers have unique perspective here, as he took control of the franchise following predecessor Donald Sterling’s racist tirade. In that sense, his stance isn’t a surprise.


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