Noah, Knicks react to NBA’s ‘standing’ for anthem mandate
As the NBA threatens punishment for players who don’t stand for the anthem, the Knicks haven’t decided yet how they’ll handle the ceremony before Tuesday’s preseason opener at the Garden.
However, Joakim Noah hinted they may do more than just stand with interlocked arms like last season.
“For some reason I feel like things are a little bit different,” Noah said Saturday. “I don’t know why, but I just feel like there’s more emphasis on it. Shout out to Colin Kaepernick for that.”
The NBA, unlike the NFL, has a rule that players must be present and “standing respectfully” during the anthem. That was reinforced in a memo distributed Friday by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, who warned, “The league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach or trainer does not stand for the anthem.”
That sounds like a fine. In 1996, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended one game for not participating during the national anthem. He then reached a compromise with the league where he was allowed to stand and pray with his head down during the song.
There has never been player who took a knee in the NBA. Many last season either interlocked arms or put their heads down. The plan again for the Knicks is to take a unified approach. Six players on the roster are not American, including three of the team’s core – Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez and Frank Ntilikina.
“We want to do things together. We’ve talked about that and told them, ‘Before the exhibition game, you guys discuss how you want to do it,’” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “So I think we’re in the process of that and letting those guys talk with each other and figure it out.”
Added forward Lance Thomas, “Whatever we do, we’ll do it as a team.”
With Carmelo Anthony gone, Noah, who has spoken about his anti-war beliefs and need for stricter gun control, is now the Knicks leader in terms of raising awareness for social issues. He indicated Saturday that the backlash to Kaepernick’s protest is misguided.
“We’re finally talking about social injustice,” Noah said. “People always want to talk about the flag. Of course, the flag is very important. But let’s not forget the reason for the protests are because of social injustice.”
No matter the message, the NBA – which has a working relationship with the military – is requiring that players stand for the anthem. The player’s union president has vowed to challenge the league on this issue.
It could get dicey. And the Knicks are still discussing how they’ll approach it.
“I’m going to speak to my teammates and we’ll see what we come up with,” Thomas said. “We’re going to do whatever we do together.”