NBA teams kneel over Jacob Blake decision, US Capitol protest


The Celtics discussed the Blake decision earlier in the day, before the events from the Capitol unfolded. The Celtics then met again as a team after arriving at the arena in Miami, where many televisions in the locker room areas — normally on sports channels — were on the news.

“They’ve operated in a win-at-all-costs attitude,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Trump’s administration. “I don’t know, our sports world is a lot less important, obviously. But I’ve always thought if you operated with a win-at-all-costs attitude, it’s going to be a pretty unfulfilling ending. And in this situation, a disgraceful ending. So, I’m looking forward to two weeks from now, as I know a lot of other people are, too.”

Boston players kneel in protest before their NBA match against Miami.Credit:AP

Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.

It was not known if the Heat and Celtics would face penalties for kneeling from the NBA, which has had a rule for decades that players and coaches must stand for the national anthem. That rule was relaxed last year when the season resumed at the bubble inside Walt Disney World in Central Florida, as part of the statements demanding societal change that the league made and encouraged from teams and players.

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“I’m 59 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said, when asked for his reaction to the events in Washington. “Our country, we’re being laughed at all over the world. From the way that we’ve handled the pandemic to this … it’s a sad day for everybody.”

Meanwhile, a men’s college basketball game scheduled to be played in Washington was postponed after a city curfew was imposed in response to the mob’s actions at the Capitol.

AP

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Charles Leclerc hits out after revealing why he won’t kneel


F1 star Charles Leclerc has lashed out after being labelled a “racist” because he won’t kneel before races.

The Ferrari young gun is one of multiple drivers who have stayed on their feet when the national anthem is played before grands prix this year.

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Kneeling has become a symbol of support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and competitors in sports leagues around the world have adopted the practice to show their solidarity for racial equality.

But Leclerc says he won’t kneel because some of the BLM protests around the world in recent months have turned violent, and he doesn’t support that.

On Friday morning the 22-year-old tweeted his disgust at being lumped in with “disgusting” racists just because he won’t take a knee.

“It is very sad to see how some people manipulate my words to make headlines making me sound like a racist,” Leclerc wrote.

“I am not racist and I absolutely hate racism. Racism is disgusting.

“Stop putting me in the same group as these disgusting people that are discriminating (against) others because of their skin colour, religion or gender. I’m not part of them and I never will.

“I’ve always been respectful to everyone and that should be the standard in today’s world.

“And to whoever is using my image to promote their wrong ideas, please stop. I’m not into politics and I don’t want to be involved in that.”

RELATED: Lewis Hamilton slams ‘rushed’ anti-racism protest

RELATED: F1 criticised for cutting away from BLM protest

Prior to his social media rant, Leclerc explained his reasoning for choosing to stand while others kneel.

“I don’t want to kneel down, because many of the protests that take place around the world are often violent,” he told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“And I do not accept violence in any form.

“I also don’t like that politicians are starting to use these protests for their own purposes.”

Six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has urged his sport to be more active in pushing for racial equality. After last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix he slammed racing bosses for a “rushed” pre-race protest, saying the issue deserves more consideration.

“They need to do more, and I don’t know why they only did it for the first race at the start, they’ve not done it since then,” Hamilton said.

“They’ve come out saying they’re going to be fighting for diversity and End Racism, but they’re not giving us the platform to continue that because it’s all rushed.

“I think they can give us more time. I’ll probably send an email over the next couple of days, try to co-ordinate with them. They do want to do it, it’s just I guess there was not good enough communication.”



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Real problem with Israel Folau refusing to kneel in UK Super League


Australian footy star Israel Folau’s decision not to kneel as part of a Black Lives Matter protest caused plenty of controversy but the biggest shame is it’s another instance where his off-field beliefs take away from his on-field abilities.

Folau was the only player on the field to remain standing before his Catalans Dragons played St Helens on Monday morning (AEDT) as everyone else took a knee in support of racial equality.

A Catalans insider reportedly said Folau, a deeply religious person, “will only kneel for one being — his god”, which is why he was the odd person out.

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia last year for homophobic posts made on Instagram and returned to rugby league in 2020 for the first time in 10 years, following stints in AFL and union.

His debut for Catalans in February was also marred by supporters claiming they were banned from displaying rainbow flags, which they’d brought to protest the 31-year-old’s views on gay people.

English rugby league journalist Matthew Shaw said the real problem with the headlines that accompany Folau are they detract from his fantastic qualities as a footballer.

He was a teenage star in the NRL and became one of the Wallabies’ best players but his exploits with ball in hand aren’t getting the attention they deserve because of everything else Folau brings with him.

RELATED: Folau the only player not to kneel

RELATED: Real reason Izzy chose to stand

“The shame with Israel Folau and everything that’s gone down since he joined the Super League is it goes under the radar, his ability as an athlete,” Shaw said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

“I’m not saying that he should change his beliefs or comply with whatever so that that’s recognisable. What I would say is that he’s been fantastic as a player since coming, but it never gets discussed because of the off-field baggage, I suppose you’d describe it as.

“I get the impression that Israel is never going to be very far from the headlines during his stay at Catalans.”

Super League bosses are probably less than thrilled the restart of the season after a five-month break because of the COVID-19 crisis was overshadowed by Folau’s actions.

“He generated a lot of headlines and probably not the headlines that Super League wanted on its return,” Shaw said.

“There was a lot of headlines of the like of ‘Israel Folau overshadows Super League’s return’, which naturally the competition didn’t want.”

St Helens thrashed Catalans 34-6 and Folau’s coach Steve McNamara defended his actions after the match.

“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” McNamara said.

“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee. That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”



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Israel Folau the only player not to kneel as UK Super League restarts


Israel Folau was the only player not to kneel before kick-off as his Catalans Dragons lost to St Helens on the weekend the UK Super League restarted its season.

The campaign has been on hold for nearly five months because of coronavirus and every player except the former NRL and rugby union star took a knee in a show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Super League CEO Robert Elstone and referee Ben Thaler also knelt, but Dragons coach Steve McNamara defended Folau’s decision to stay on his feet.

“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” he said after the match.

“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee. That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”

Some on social media criticised Folau, but ex-British rugby league star Leon Pryce backed the 31-year-old.

“Nobody should feel like they are forced to do anything they are not comfortable with,” he wrote on Twitter.

Great Britain legend Martin Offiah, whose parents are Nigerian, wants Folau to explain why he refused to kneel.

“It shows you that life is not black and white. He’s a complex, controversial character, Israel,” Offiah told Sky Sports.

“Why he didn’t take the knee? We’ll only know if we go and ask him after the game. It’s interesting to see he stood up.

“You need to put a microphone in front of Israel and get him to speak for himself.

“So it would just be interesting to understand what that point is because we’re here in the dark, and I don’t think Steve McNamara knows.”

Taking a knee has become common in the sports world since the death of American man George Floyd in police custody sparked widespread protests. It was a feature of the English Premier League when its season restarted and almost all players in the NBA knelt while wearing Black Lives Matter shirts as their campaign got back underway last week.

Closer to home, AFL and NRL players also took a knee when their seasons resumed.

However, Folau isn’t alone in deciding to keep his feet. On Saturday, Orlando Magic star Jonathan Isaac became the first NBA player to stand during the national anthem while in F1, multiple drivers have opted against kneeling before the start of races.

Folau took legal action against Rugby Australia after being sacked last year for posting on Instagram that “hell awaits” gay people. He wanted $14 million in compensation for wrongful termination and in December the two parties came to a confidential settlement.

Exiled from the 15-man code Down Under, Folau signed to play with French side Catalans in the Super League. He debuted for his new team in February, scoring a try in his first outing against Castleford as he made a return to rugby league after 10 years away playing AFL and rugby union.

However, the former Wallaby’s arrival at Catalans was accompanied by controversy. Some supporters turned up to his first match with rainbow flags in protest against Folau’s homophobic comments on social media, and complained they were told by security they weren’t allowed to display them.

As Super League action returned for the first time since March, St Helens thrashed Folau’s Dragons 34-6 in an empty stadium because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Last month Folau signed a contract extension with Catalans to stay with the Dragons until the end of the 2021 season.



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Jonathan Isaac refuses to kneel, wear Black Lives Matter T-shirt


Orlando Magic star Jonathan Isaac became the first player who refused to kneel during the national anthem as the NBA restarted its season.

The league resumed on Friday from a four-month break because of coronavirus and teams showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept across the globe.

Every single player wore Black Lives Matter shirts and took a knee during the anthem on day one, but Isaac didn’t follow suit before the Magic’s game against the Brooklyn Nets on day two.

The power forward took a stand — literally — and was the only player not wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt while the anthem was played. Instead, he wore his team trackpants and jersey.

Speaking after the Magic’s 128-118 win, Isaac referenced his religious beliefs while explaining his decision.

“I believe that Black Lives Matter. Kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives,” he said.

“I support black lives but not that way. My life has been supported by Jesus Christ. The gospel gives us force.

“I knew it was going to be a tough decision, one that people would have questioned. I’ve leaned on God’s word and his plan for me.

“People have opinions, but I took my decision. We’re protesting and doing things to get something done. But we need to see all the things and all the answers are in the word of Jesus.”

Isaac said his teammates respected his decision while Orlando coach Steve Clifford added: “I support him, his teammates support him, the organisation supports him, so that’s part of living in our country.”

NBA players have been vocal in their support for racial equality and wanting an end to police brutality in the wake of the shocking death of American man George Floyd while in police custody.

LA Lakers superstar LeBron James has been among the most outspoken stars and he continued to push the message after coming up clutch with the last basket of the game to give his side a two-point win over the Clippers yesterday.

“There’s been progress but in the past when we’ve made progress we’ve let our foot off the gas a little bit,” James said.

“We can’t do that. We want to continue to keep our foot on the gas, continue to push forward, continue to spread love throughout America.

“We’re dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality. Not only in my neighbourhoods and not only with black people, but with people of colour and it’s something we want to continue to have people’s ears open too.

“We have ears now but we cannot stop.”

RELATED: LeBron’s important message after coming up clutch

After the majority of Orlando players took a knee, the Magic and their owners released a statement in support of the protest.

“The DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic organisation fully supports Magic players who have chosen to leverage their professional platform to send a peaceful and powerful message condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police, especially against people of colour,” the statement read.

“We are proud of the positive impact our players have made and join with them in the belief that sports can bring people together — bridging divides and promoting inclusion, equality, diversity and unity.

“We know this is not about the military, the men and women who serve honourably to keep our communities safe for all, or those who have paid the ultimate price to provide freedom, including freedom of expression. We’re confident the entire Magic family has immense respect for these entities and individuals.

“This is about coming together to end racism once and for all. We are committed to walking alongside our players — today and in the many days ahead — in the pursuit of lasting and impactful change.”



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Richmond, Collingwood players kneel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter at the MCG



Richmond and Collingwood players have knelt at an empty MCG before the coin toss to register their opposition to racism, joining world sport’s support of the Black Lives Matters movement.

As AFL competition resumed for the first time since March 22, the Tigers and Magpies players wore black T-shirts during the warm-up on the ground.

Then when the teams gathered for the toss of the coin, they walked to the centre square and knelt as a combined group for 30 seconds.

“Tonight’s gesture is one of support, unity and respect driven by the playing group,” Richmond tweeted just before the start of the match.

“We stand in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters for all people of colour.

“There is no place for racism.

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“The [taking of a] knee is an expression of that support, we see strength in diversity, it makes us better as a football club and as a community.

“We will be there for each other always, especially at a time when many have been impacted by what is happening around the world.

“We will continue to learn and walk this journey together.”

Sports stars around the world have lent their names and profiles to protests against police brutality.

The protests have been sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd, who was pinned to the ground for more than eight minutes with a knee to his neck by a Minneapolis police officer.

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The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder for Floyd’s death, while three other officers who were there have been charged with lesser offences.

Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan and tennis young gun Coco Gauff have released statements and videos protesting the treatment of black people by police.

America’s NFL has apologised to players for its handling of previous protests, started by the actions of former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem before games.

In the German Bundesliga late last month, players used goal celebrations as a chance to make their protests, with a number wearing T-shirts carrying the message “Justice for George Floyd”.



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