NBA suggests to teams unity ideas, reminds of anthem rule

Marlana Vanhoose singing the National Anthem during Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena (FOX 8 image)

NEW YORK — The NBA is recommending teams address fans or show videos expressing themes of unity before their first home games, while reminding them of the rule that players must stand for the national anthem.

A memo was sent to teams Friday, a day after Commissioner Adam Silver said he expected players would stand for the anthem .

In the memo, obtained by The Associated Press, Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum suggested teams use their opening games “to demonstrate your commitment to the NBA’s core values of equality, diversity, inclusion and serve as a unifying force in the community.”

He recommended an address by a player or coach to fans before the anthem, or a video featuring players or community leaders speaking about important issues and showing photos from past community events.

The league’s preseason schedule begins Saturday with two games, including the NBA champion Golden State Warriors hosting Denver.

Tatum said the league supports and encourages players to express their views on matters that are important to them, while reminding of the rule that players, coaches and trainers stand respectfully for the anthem.

“The league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach or trainer does not stand for the anthem. (Teams do not have the discretion to waive this rule),” the memo says.

The memo builds on discussions held by the NBA’s Board of Governors this week, and follows up on one Silver and players association executive director Michele Roberts sent to players recently.

It recommends that teams organize internal discussions to hear the players’ perspectives, if they haven’t already, and to start or expand programs within their communities.

“The players have embraced their roles in those efforts and we are proud of the work they do in our communities,” Tatum wrote.