Hawks will fully support players who choose to protest


Thabo Sefolosha knows that he is lucky to be alive.

The Hawks forward survived an incident with police officers. However, others who have not. The instances of excessive use of force by police has sparked outrage and protest. Incidents in Tulsa and Charlotte are the latest examples that have captured national attention in the past several years.

Protest and activism for change have moved into the world of sports as NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has chosen to kneel during the playing of the national anthem to protest the social injustices.

“To be honest, looking at some of the footage that we see from Tulsa and Charlotte, I feel lucky to be here and to talk about what happened to me,” said Sefolosha, who suffered a broken leg and ligament damage during an arrest in New York City in April 2015. “To be honest, it could have went many different ways. I think I’m lucky to be able to speak about it.

“It’s been going on for years now. It’s a touchy subject but it needs to be addressed. It’s a necessary conversation and hopefully it can happen without violence in all the demonstrations going on.”

Sefolosha was acquitted of all charges and has filed a civil lawsuit in the case.

Athletes from other NFL teams and in other sports have joined Kaepernick. With NBA training camps underway, the possibility of player protest has become an issue for the league.

Sefolosha said Monday that he does not intend an action of protest during the national anthem this season.

“I think it’s great that it has ignited the conversation,” Jarrett Jack said. “Cleary, the conversation is very, very necessary. I just wonder if there is a stance or a way that we can still show these same protests and maybe it doesn’t necessarily have to involve the national anthem. Could it be in another way that we can still get these same type of results but still try to do it as respectfully as we can? … I do applaud everybody for exercising their First Amendment right and stand up for what they believe in.”

The NBA has a collectively bargained rule that requires players to stand during the national anthem. It states “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the national anthem.”

The NBA recently sent a letter to players requesting their thoughts about ways to participate in “positive change.”

Coach Mike Budenholzer said Monday that the Hawks organization will fully support the players if and how they choose to voice their opinion.

“We will be incredibly supportive of our players,” Budenholzer said. “Our ownership, our organization, myself as the coach and president and Wes (Wilcox) as our general manager, we want to be supportive of our players. The more thoughtful, the more respective, we can be. If we are those two things our country will be better. I think our players have always been both of those things. However it is they choose to (protest), I will and the organization will support them. I think it’s going to be a continuing conversation and hopefully our country will get better going forward because of the conversation.”

Kyle Korver said there is a place for athletes in the discussion about national issues and prospective change.

“There a lot of people out there who say we shouldn’t,” Korver said. “But there are people who have asked us to be role models. It’s important for us to be unified in our message. Be respectful. But we are in America and you get to voice your opinion. I think as long as there are really good conversations in progress, I think it’s a good thing. There are problems in our country. Athletes can have a role in the conversation. I think it’s on us to educate ourselves. You shouldn’t feel pressure to have to do something. That is something we have trying to stress to our team.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Hawks

Ten observations from Hawks victory over Jazz
Ten observations from Hawks victory over Jazz

(AP Photo) Ten observations from Hawks 104, Jazz 90. . . . 1. The Hawks won with an impressive second-half performance in which they matched the Jazz’s intensity and played with much more purpose. The Hawks have won four of their past six games and seven of their last 14. 2. The Hawks gained separation with a 13-3 run to close...
Ten observations from Hawks loss to Bulls
Ten observations from Hawks loss to Bulls

Atlanta Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon (14) battles Chicago Bulls forward Denzel Valentine (45) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Ten observations from Bulls 113, Hawks 97 . . .  1. At least the Hawks’ throwback unis looked...
Hawks to wear throwback uniforms, honor past greats on Saturday
Hawks to wear throwback uniforms, honor past greats on Saturday

The Hawks will honor their history Saturday when they host the Bulls on Throwback Night. The team will wear a replica of their 1972 uniforms and the organization will also honor alumni. The game tips off at 5 p.m. at Philips Arena. Throughout the night, the club will show videos highlighting the franchise’s past.  The uniform features...
Hawks-Pelicans game still on as scheduled
Hawks-Pelicans game still on as scheduled

The Hawks home game against the Pelicans on Wednesday will be played as scheduled despite recent inclement weather, according to a team spokesperson. The game at Philips Arena is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The team has no plans to adjust the start time or door openings. The team spokesperson encouraged fans to use MARTA. Atlanta received 2.3 inches...
With Hawks, Dedmon shows he can be more than NBA backup
With Hawks, Dedmon shows he can be more than NBA backup

(AP Photo) By now it’s obvious that Dewayne Dedmon is a legitimate NBA center. He’d established himself as a rotation player at Orlando and San Antonio but, given a bigger role with the Hawks, he’s shown that he can be more than that. Dedmon’s signing last summer gave the Hawks a respectable veteran big man for...
More Stories