Kneeling for the national anthem has been the norm through a couple of days of the NBA’s restart in Orlando, and the Denver Nuggets did little to buck that trend ahead of Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat.
Denver players and staff kneeled for the anthem, while Miami’s Meyers Leonard, who has deep military ties, chose to stand.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone wore a shirt that read “Justice for Elijah McClain,” to his pregame media availability Saturday morning. McClain was a 23-year-old who died after a confrontation with the Aurora Police Department in 2019.
"We just wanted to raise awareness of the event that happened," Nuggets wing Torrey Craig said after the game. "Obviously it hits closer to us because it’s in our home state of Colorado. We just wanted to voice it and let people see we’re supporting his family and seeking justice."
All players, coaches and officials knelt during the anthem on Thursday’s opening night.
“I thought it was a great moment not only for ourselves but for the country,” Nuggets forward Paul Millsap answered Friday when asked about the actions Thursday night. “I think that signified what our purpose is down here. It’s not only just to go and try to win a championship, but raise awareness and actually do something about what’s going on in our society.”
Orlando Magic wing Jonathan Isaac became the first player to stand for the anthem Friday, and San Antonio coach and Air Force Academy graduate Gregg Popovich stood for the anthem before the Spurs game but did so wearing a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter.”