CHICAGO -- The Milwaukee Bucks stood together in a show of "unity" during the national anthem before Monday's preseason opener against the Chicago Bulls. The Bucks stood in a line, with each man putting his left arm around the man next to him. Some players and coaches kept their right hands on their hearts as the anthem played.
Bucks head coach Jason Kidd made it clear before the game that his team was "not protesting," in the wake of recent events centered around opposition to police brutality and shootings across the country. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the most recent trend last month, when he decided to sit during the national anthem. He has been kneeling during the anthem the past few weeks.
"It's not a protest," Kidd said. "We're not protesting. We're showing unity. There's not a protest."
Kidd said that after some of the protests across the country, he wanted his team to make a decision together.
"We discussed it," he said. "And I think there was a lot of discussion throughout the week ... guys have come up with a solution of what they want to do for the national anthem. So I'm very proud of them being able to come together and make a decision and do it as a team. That just shows a lot of growth for our young players."
Kidd, speaking before the game, seemed pleased with his team's outcome.
"I think they've covered every base, and I think it's just showing awareness," Kidd said. "I think it's for [the team] to discuss and talk about because I think it's really nice of them and special that they came together as a unit and be unified. It just shows our growth for a young team."
No Bulls players or staff members did anything out of their routine during the anthem. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg noted that he would "respect" whatever decision his team made.
"I respect our players in whatever decision they make," Hoiberg said before the game. "I'm not sure what will happen with our group, but I do certainly respect their right to express themselves. As far as what we're going to do, we're going to go out there. As far as my beliefs, I believe in standing respectfully and honoring the national anthem, but I certainly do respect our players and the right to express themselves."
Kidd believes the protests have gotten so much attention due in part to the fact that the NBA and other professional sports leagues have more media attention than ever before.
"There wasn't enough of you guys," Kidd said. "There was only two of you [reporters]. Now there's millions. So that's the biggest change. Our media platform is a lot bigger than Dr. J's and Larry Bird's and Magic's. They only had to talk to one [reporter]. But the way the media is and the platform the NBA has, I think it's great that there [are] voices that come from the young men and older guys too. To show that they do care about more than just basketball."