The NBA regular season begins in 40 days, on Oct. 25. That’s just 14 days before the 2016 presidential election and prime time for debate and polarization among Americans. Many are wondering if the effect of Colin Kaepernick’s recent national anthem protest will carry over into other sports. According to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo, it seems likely.
When asked in an interview with Complex Sports if the national anthem protest would “transfer to the NBA,” Oladipo replied:
Oh, no question. I truly believe it will. Because at the end of the day it’s a sport, and people are gonna be looking at some guys in the NBA to see what they’re gonna do as well. At the end of the day you just control what you can control, so your opinion is your opinion, that’s the beauty of the United States, so, do whatever you feel is best that will help you do whatever you believe.
He elabored on the topic further, saying:
People’s beliefs are people’s beliefs, you know what I mean, you can only control so much, you can only control what you can control, and the most things you can control is yourself. So whatever you believe, believe in to the utmost. But I think definitely, we’ll see a few guys in the NBA doing the same thing.
Other NBA players have showed verbal support for Kaepernick, including MVP award winners Steph Curry and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors.
“That’s not the way that I’ll do it,” Curry said. “But I support his attempt to start the conversation or…better a terrible situation that we’ve been noticing for awhile.” Durant stated, “I’m behind anyone who stands up for what they believe in.” No pun intended.
NBA players have never been known to shy away from controversy. In the 2014-15 season, many league players wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warmups to protest the grand jury’s decision in Eric Garner’s death.
Given the anti-violence opening monologue delivered by NBA stars at this year’s ESPY Awards—as well as recent shooting of Chicago Bulls player Dwyane Wade’s cousin—expect for calls to action involving issues like gun violence and police brutality to become more prominent in the NBA.