A year ago Tuesday, the Dallas Mavericks opened their 2016 training camp, but basketball wasn’t the thought.
Discussions about views on racial injustice were made after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem by kneeling on one knee.
On Monday, the Mavericks opened their 2017 training camp, but the same questions were being answered following President Donald Trump’s comments toward the NFL and NBA over the weekend.
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“It was a topic last year as well, and we met with our players again today and told them that we support them 100 percent whatever they decide to do,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “My understanding is that they’re going to talk about it and they’re going to decide as a team. I support my players.”
It all started on Friday during Trump’s speech at a rally in Huntsville, Ala., where he said any player who sits during the national anthem is a “son of a b----.” On Sunday, a number of NFL owners released statements while hundreds of players protested by kneeling, sitting or even waiting in the tunnels during the Star Spangled Banner.
“It’s disappointing times. It’s almost 2018 and you’d hope stuff like that wouldn’t be in the news anymore,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who’s entering his 20th season with the franchise. “It’s tough times for everyone and you have to do your best to stick together and promote love and all the good stuff.”
Trump also rescinded point guard Stephen Curry’s invitation to the White House as a member of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Curry told reporters on Friday that he didn’t want to go in hopes to send a message.
This only fueled a number of NBA players to take their opinions to Twitter including Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James calling the president a “bum.”
Harrison Barnes, who’s in his second campaign with Dallas, won an NBA title with Curry and the Warriors in 2015.
“It was surprising that with everything going on in the world that he would take the time to single out Steph’s White House invite,” Barnes said. “It was bizarre, but at the end of the day it’s still sad that a year after Kaepernick takes that knee, we’re still not talking about the actual issue in which he took a knee for.”
Nowitzki recalled the Mavericks’ trip to the White House and visiting Barack Obama after winning the 2011 NBA championship — something he’ll never forget.
“It was something incredible and something we were looking forward to,” Nowitzki said. “It was an honor to go there, give the president his jersey and the ball and to represent the Mavericks.”
Carlisle and Nowitzki said the team will collectively discuss what they plan to do, but not before everyone gets a chance to speak.
“We’ll meet and get to know each other a little more — lot of new faces in the locker room — but we’ll hear everybody out,” Nowitzki said. “That’s the great thing about America; everybody has the freedom of speech to voice their opinions, so we’ll talk in the locker room with the staff and management and make a decision.”