ANAHEIM — The Lakers linked arms during the national anthem before the start of their preseason opener against the Minnesota on Saturday, a gesture of protest that Coach Luke Walton said he expects the team to carry into the regular season.
“By locking arms,” Walton said, “I feel like we are showing that there are issues in this country and it is a chance for us to raise awareness and still make it a talking point. If you do nothing, then it kind of goes away. And if it goes away, then nothing changes.”
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 1, 2017
The Lakers and Timberwolves both locked arms on their respective ends of the court, continuing a movement that started in the NFL after President Donald Trump said any football players who protest during “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be fired.
After several players from the champion Golden State Warriors said they would not make the customary visit to the White House, Trump tweeted that the invitation had been withdrawn.
Walton said Lakers players met during training camp to discuss their options. On Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to the league’s 30 teams reinforcing a policy that players and coaches stand for the playing of the anthem.
“We are in this together,” Walton said. “I think they chose to show that we are united in this.”
Forward Larry Nance Jr. said the Lakers “wanted to show solidarity for what’s going on in the country” and that the players “definitely want to put some action behind our words.”
Those actions will be discussed at a later date, Nance said.
“We’re going to come out with a big public memo: here’s what we are, here’s why we stand, here’s what we’re doing and here’s the actions behind it,” Nance said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”
The Lakers also linked arms for most of last season, in the wake of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem, and later hosted a clinic for Los Angeles police officers and Drew League players.
“Obviously those were good steps forward,” Nance said, “but there’s still a lot to be done.”
Frank Hamblen, the assistant coach who won seven championships alongside Phil Jackson in Chicago and L.A., died Sunday in Del Mar, the Lakers announced. Hamblen was 70.
“Obviously the NBA lost a phenomenal person today,” Walton said. “Frank would be (ticked) off at me for even talking about him right now because that’s who Frank is. He loved basketball. He loved life. He always had fun. He always had a quiet remark to tell you.”
Hamblen spent 42 years as a coach in the NBA and ABA, including 12 seasons from 1999-01 under Jackson and Rudy Tomjanovich. Hamblen served as the Lakers interim head coach for 39 games at the end of the 2005 season.
(c)2017 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.