Ex-NBA commissioner: Kaepernick would still have a job if he played basketball

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern said that ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick would still have a job after kneeling during the national anthem if he were a basketball player.

The NBA makes an effort to prioritize players expressing themselves, Stern said during an interview with the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast set to air on Feb. 18.

“As we were digging out of a terrible hole for us — in the late ’70s and ’80s, when there was a fair amount of racism exhibited about players — we felt as a matter of policy we had to promote our players and show that they were real people,” Stern said. “And it worked.”{mosads}

Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, first took a knee on-field during the national anthem in 2016 to protect racial injustice.

He has remained unsigned for two years and has become a frequent target of President Trump and his Republican base. Trump in September 2017 said that NFL owners should fire players for kneeling during the national anthem. 

Stern said on the podcast that the NFL should have suspended Kaepernick when he first began his silent protest so that his career would have been able to continue.

The ex-commissioner said that is how he handled a similar national anthem scandal in the mid 1990s while heading the NBA.

Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to come out of the locker room before a game for the Star Spangled Banner and called it a symbol of oppression.

Stern suspended the player for a game, which included a nearly $32,000 fine. They were then able to reach an agreement which allowed Abdul-Rauf to stand for the anthem with a bowed head. 

His successor as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, kept the policy in place following the national discussion surrounding Kaepernick, Bloomberg noted.

Stern questioned whether fans angry about Kaepernick’s protest would abandon their NFL teams if he was resigned.

“Look at the bounceback the NFL had this season,” he said. “They are the No. 1 sports property and the No. 1 television property likely in the world, other than the Olympics and the World Cup.”

Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners in 2017 and alleged that they colluded to keep him out of the league. He accused the NFL of “kowtowing” to Trump to keep off him a team. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, said last month that teams aren’t signing Kaepernick because they don’t think he will help them win.

Tags Colin Kaepernick David Stern Donald Trump National anthem protests National Football League NBA NFL Roger Goodell
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