NBA: US anthem protests would be counter-productive, says Golden State star Curry

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (third from left) next to forward Kevin Durant during the US national anthem before the start of the Sept 30 game against the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS
The Tennessee Titans kneeling in protest before their Sept 24 game in Nashville against comments by US President Donald J. Trump calling for the firing of NFL players who don't stand for the national anthem. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Two-time Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry said on Saturday that it would be "counter-productive" for NBA players to follow their NFL counterparts by kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

Scores of National Football League (NFL) players have taken a knee during the anthem in defiance of US President Donald Trump, who two weeks ago blasted the practice as an insult to the country.

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first began kneeling last year to highlight perceived unjust treatment of African-Americans.

Curry had previously said he would likely skip the customary visit by his defending National Basketball Association champions Golden State Warriors to the White House over Trump's policies, which prompted the president to revoke the entire team's invitation in a Twitter outburst.

"Anything beyond that is, for me, kind of counter-productive," he said when asked about the possibility of anthem protests in the NBA.

Curry, whose Warriors are in Shanghai for the second of two China pre-season games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, said there are better ways, such as being active in their communities, for players to make their views known.

"At the end of the day, we all as individuals have an opportunity to be a vessel of light and love ... by how we treat each other and what we stand for," he said.

ESPN reported a week ago that the NBA already had sent a memo to teams saying players must stand for the anthem when the season opens on Oct 17.

Kevin Durant, who has bolstered the Warrior's quest for a third title in four years by joining the team this season, said he would not kneel but "wouldn't look at it as a surprise" if other players did.

Retired Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, in a podcast released on Wednesday by The Hollywood Reporter, said he would kneel during the anthem if he was still playing.

Trump's tirade against NFL protesters provoked an unprecedented show of defiance two weeks ago when a large number of mostly black players dropped to one knee during the anthem, while other players stood with arms interlocked.

The NBA, in its memo to teams reported by ESPN, said the league has the discretion to discipline players who violate a rule requiring that teams stand for the anthem.

The memo suggested that teams make an effort in their first home game to address the current political climate by having players and coaches give a pre-game address to their fans.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has also said he expects players to stand for the anthem.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.