ANAHEIM — The Lakers’ first sign of unity did not happen on a play. Instead, it happened when the players locked arms together during the national anthem before Tuesday’s exhibition.
With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial justice issues, the Lakers wanted to express their own protest while remaining sympathetic to those that view the anthem as paying respect toward the military. The Kings made a similar gesture.
“We fully support our players in exercising their right of expression over an issue that is so important,” the Lakers announced in a statement. “We also applaud the NBA and the NBA Players Association for their collaborative work in expanding the dialogue and for their spirit of cooperation. Finally, we also look forward to furthering our participation on this issue through our Building Bridges with Basketball campaign and our Community Conversation events.”
The Lakers had talked internally about the issue before training camp opened. Players said one possibility entailed locking arms during the anthem.
“It’s obviously a very serious, important issue,” Walton said at media day. “I think something needs to be done. This country is too great to have happen what keeps happening. What that is, we’ll decide as a group and continue to talk about what we can do.”