NBA legend Charles Barkley defended those players who choose not to kneel during the National Anthem.
As societal pressure and the remainder of the NBA kneel during the pre-game playing of the National Anthem, Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood.
In doing so, he became the first player not to kneel since the league restarted its season.
Barkley said some people still revere the flag and stand for it out of principle. These people, he argued, should “not be vilified.”
“The national anthem means different things to different people,” Barkley said on his show alongside fellow NBA legend and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. “I’m glad these [NBA players] are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear.”
He continued: “I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified.”
Charles Barkley on anthem kneeling "If people don't kneel they're not a bad person" pic.twitter.com/qeZfjHTUZ4
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) July 30, 2020
As the Western Journal reports, not one single player stood in the previous games since the restart.
“The NBA matched up the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz in the first game Thursday. Not one player from either team stood for the American flag before tipoff,” the report reads.
— NBA (@NBA) July 30, 2020
And, “After the first game, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers faced off. Again, not a single player stood for the anthem.”
— NBA (@NBA) July 31, 2020