Oklahoma City Thunder players took a knee during the national anthem ahead of their NBA game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, just one day after a state representative threatened to reassess state benefits for OKC if the team knelt.
Utah Jazz players also knelt, with other teams having done the same since the NBA season restarted last week.
The move, a sign of protest against racial injustice, has largely been coupled with the wearing of Black Lives Matter t-shirts.
The decision by OKC players to kneel came a day after Republican Oklahoma state representative Sean Roberts warned the team against doing so.
“If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma,” Roberts said in a statement to Oklahoma News 4.
Jazz and Thunder all kneel for the national anthem. One referee remains standing. pic.twitter.com/hFMoq9hVNl
— Eric Walden (@tribjazz)
Roberts also reportedly described the act of kneeling during the national anthem as “anti-patriotic” and disrespectful “to the American flag and all it stands for”.
Roberts, who acknowledged that the Thunder “is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024”, said the money “would be better served” in support of police departments.