Golden State Warriors superstar and two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry on Wednesday expressed his support for Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing refusal to stand for the singing of the national anthem before NFL games, a decision the San Francisco 49ers quarterback says he has made in protest of the oppression of black people and other people of color.
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As part of a marketing tour of Asia sponsored by Under Armour, Curry sat down with CNBC to discuss several topics, including the three moments he knew he’d “made it” as a basketball success story. The conversation turned, though, to the weightier issue of Kaepernick’s protest, which has drawn loud criticism and support over the past two weeks from sources both inside and outside the NFL, with U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeling in solidarity with Kaepernick and President Barack Obama suggesting that, “messy and controversial” though the process may be, it’s better to “have young people that are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people just sitting on the sidelines not participating at all.”
Curry struck a similar note during his chat with CNBC, responding to news that Kaepernick’s 49ers jersey has become the hottest-selling jersey on in the NFL by saying, “I love that.”
“I love that there’s freedom of speech and he can stand up for what he believes in,” Curry said. “There’s going to be people that disagree with him and there’s going to be people that agree with him, which is what I think our country stands for, which hopefully will drive the conversation to bettering the equal rights and treatment of African Americans and people of color.
“So I applaud him for taking a stand, and hopefully the conversation is about what his message was and not, ‘Is he going to stand or is he going to sit for the national anthem?'” he continued. “The conversation is started and should continue.”
Kaepernick has said he intends to remain seated or kneeling during the national anthem until “there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent.”
“The message is we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with,” Kaepernick said after the 49ers’ final preseason game. “We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally; that aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about that need to be brought to life. We need to fix those things.”
Curry also lauded Kaepernick’s plan to donate $1 million to “different organizations to help these communities and help these people” as part of an effort to advance his cause from protest to action.
“We also have the fact he’s putting his money where his mouth is and donating, what’d he say, $1 million to make his message a reality,” Curry said. “I hope all the resources and conversations and intellect around the country to find a way to make that million dollars as powerful as it can be. Which is, he’s on the right track.”
Kaepernick also announced Wednesday that he intends to donate all proceeds he receives from the soaring sales of his No. 7 jerseys “back into the communities” with which he’s working.
Curry has in the past weighed in on other issues beyond the hardwood, taking part in a league campaign to speak out against gun violence. He has also at times demurred, offering “a blah answer” when asked for his view on House Bill 2, a law passed in March by legislators in his home state of North Carolina and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory that reversed a Charlotte city ordinance expanding rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, for which he came under fire. After after mutiple threats, the NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte in favor of holding it in New Orleans; Curry called it “disappointing” that the game had to be moved, but said he understood the league’s decision.
Curry isn’t alone among NBA players when it comes to publicly supporting Kaepernick’s protest and ongoing efforts. Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker, took to Instagram on Wednesday wearing a black Kaepernick jersey, joined by a caption reading, “Never followed the wave but this one is necessary. I got your back homie @kaepernick7.”
A photo posted by Jabari Parker (@jabariparker) on Sep 6, 2016 at 8:47pm PDT
Parker, a 21-year-old Chicago native who has been outspoken in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, last month wrote a first-person piece for The Players Tribune about the ongoing issues plaguing his hometown, including gun violence, police brutality and school closings. He also recently held free basketball camps for city youth and organized a star-studded pickup game featuring current and former Chicago-area NBA players for a free game aimed at helping unite a community besieged by violence.
Now that a former No. 2 overall draft pick and the two-time reigning MVP have spoken out in support of Kaepernick’s protest, it ought to be very interesting to see whether, and how many of, their fellow NBA players publicly follow suit.
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