Kareem Abdul-Jabbar compares forcing athletes to stand for anthem to songs of slavery
© Getty Images

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is slamming President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE and others over their comments about the NFL's policy requiring athletes to stand during performances of the national anthem before games.

Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a column for Wednesday's issue of The Hollywood Reporter that demands for a group of predominantly black athletes to stand during the song's performance harkened back to demands from slave owners for their slaves to sing while they worked.


"To the slave owners, singing slaves would drown out their own cruelty and oppression, clothe them in a coerced choir of decency. But it wasn't enough that the slaves had to sing, they had to sing their oppressor's feel-good songs," Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

"Currently, the song being demanded is the national anthem during football games."

Abdul-Jabbar, who has been critical of the NFL's recently announced policy requiring players to stand on the sidelines during the anthem's performance, attacked Trump for suggesting that players are "unable to define" why they protest during the national anthem.

Many players, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have been vocal about the reasons behind their protests: namely, the treatment of African-Americans by police and perceived racial inequality.

"Trump reacted by tweeting, 'Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their 'outrage' at something that most of them are unable to define.' Who would know better how to define their outrage: the privileged darling of white supremacists, the 94 percent-white team owners, the 75 percent-white head coaches or the 70 percent-black players who actually take the field each week?" Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

The NFL has placed the policy instituting penalties for protests during the national anthem on hold pending a challenge from the players' union.

The policy, announced earlier this year, came after months of attacks from the president and other members of his administration aimed at players who engaged in the protests during the national anthem.

Trump has frequently called for NFL coaches and team owners to remove players who kneel during the anthem's performance, and either suspend them without pay or fire them.