NBA players are coming away with a powerful message about George Floyd's death after kneeling during the national anthem

Ashley Landis/Pool Photo/USA TODAY Sports/ReutersThe Los Angeles Lakers kneel during the national anthem before a game.
  • NBA teams have been kneeling during the national anthem before games in the bubble.
  • Several players have compared the gesture to George Floyd’s death, noting they’re only kneeling for a fraction of the time that a police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck.
  • While in the NBA’s bubble, players have tried to keep the focus on social justice reform and racial inequality.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Even as the 2019-20 NBA season resumed in a bubble, players expressed a desire to keep the focus on social justice reform and Black Lives Matter.

Through the first few days of games, players and coaches have kneeled during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality. During the gesture, those involved have come away with a powerful message about George Floyd’s death.

On Sunday, the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers kneeled for both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O Canada.” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said it occurred to him that his knee hurt after about four minutes of kneeling and that it was less than half the time the Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of Floyd.

“Honestly to think about it, I was on my knee for over four minutes,” Lowry told ESPN’s Malika Andrews in a postgame interview. “To think that a police officer could do that for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Doc Rivers said it, about two minutes, and now we done it for eight [minutes] tonight and I indented my towel. It’s a sad moment.”

LeBron James shared a similar message on Monday, reflecting on kneeling for the two anthems.

“We actually as a unit, as a team, had to switch our knees over from one knee to the other knee because they started to get sore. Kinda started hurting a little bit,” James said. “A little over four minutes. And you think about eight minutes and 46 seconds of the officer having his knee on someone’s throat for that long.

“Video or no video, it doesn’t matter. No one deserves to lose their life when it could have been prevented.”

James on Monday wore a shirt with a watch that read 8:46, the time that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck. The shirt was produced by Sloan and Bennet and Klutch Sports.

As Lowry noted, LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers had made the same observation about kneeling after the Clippers’ first game.

“My knee hurt. In the middle of it, I’m thinking, in two minutes my knee is hurting, yet there was a guy that had his knee on someone’s neck for eight minutes. Think about that,” Rivers said.

Not every player has kneeled during the anthem. Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic and Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat both chose to stand for personal reasons. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich also chose to stand for personal reasons. Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said Popovich has been outspoken in his fight against racial inequality and should be “vilified” for not kneeling for the anthem.

In addition to kneeling, throughout their time in the “bubble,” players have been using some of their media time to advocate for justice for Breonna Taylor and for social justice reform. Many have also urged people to vote.

Additionally, players had the option to put messages of social justice on the backs of their jerseys. The NBA also has “Black Lives Matter” painted on the courts.

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