Thunder kneel ‘For equality’ despite criticism from state representative
Oklahoma Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) warned Oklahoma City Thunder players against kneeling during the National Anthem and stated the Thunder’s state provided tax benefits need reexamination if they kneel.
Roberts released the statement on Friday. In it, he described players kneeling during the National Anthem as an “anti-patriotic act” that shows “disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for.”
He then issued a warning against the Thunder and threatened to reexamine their tax benefits.
“If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024,” Roberts stated.
The Thunder played the Utah Jazz on Saturday, and all players decided to take a knee in unison during the National Anthem regardless of Roberts’ statement. They were joined by most of the team’s coaches and staff.
In a press release, NBA Players Association President and Thunder point guard, Chris Paul, explained the player’s role in social reform.
“The issues of systemic racism and police brutality in our country need to end,” said Paul. “As a union of NBA players and as a league, it is our job to use our collective platform to both put a spotlight on those issues and work to effect change. As players, we have taken a leadership role when it comes to using our voices and implementing practical solutions, but there is much work ahead both in Orlando and long-term to continue the momentum and bring about real, long-lasting change to our society.”
While Roberts may not personally approve of the team’s choice to kneel, he is likely outnumbered regarding bringing any legal action, according to Mark Hanebutt, lawyer and University of Central Oklahoma professor.
“He has freedom of speech and can say whatever he wants, but undercutting the Thunder would not be a popular move,” Hanebutt said. “I doubt seriously that the Legislature is willing to lose the team to another state.”
Here is Roberts’ full statement:
“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024.
Perhaps these funds would be better served in support of our police departments rather than giving tax breaks to an organization that supports defunding police and the dissolution of the American nuclear family.”
The 2019-20 NBA season was postponed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The season resumed on Thursday, July 30. Since the resumption, most NBA players and coaches have been kneeling together.
The Thunder’s next game is against the Los Angeles Lakers on Aug. 5 at 5:30 p.m.