Kobe Bryant told ESPN’s Jemele Hill that if he was still an active player in the NBA, he would join Colin Kaepernick’s protest and take a knee during the national anthem. Bryant realizes that he would be violating an NBA mandate that all players must stand during the patriotic observance. While the still-unsigned quarterback has taken a lot of criticism from Donald J. Trump and his base, he is protesting a serious issue. Bryant said that he would have undoubtedly joined the conversation.
“Yeah, I would have participated in it, for sure,” Bryant told Hill during a taping of “Dear Black Athlete” for The Undefeated. “I’m sure I would have gotten some flak for it. That’s fine. I think that Colin’s message was a very simple one. It was police brutality needs to stop; we need to take a look at that.”
This man is one of the greatest athletes in the world, a husband, father, family man, businessman, global icon, with not one, but two jerseys retired! The Black Mamba – Kobe Bryant!!! @kobebryant thank you so much for always leading by example and being a great role model for our young brothers and sisters. I was extremely humbled upon hearing that you wanted to join the #MillionDollarPledge #10for10 #Encore with a donation to Youth Service Inc from your hometown of Philadelphia, PA. Thank you so much for always inspiring the youth and always doing work within the community. Together everyone involved in the Million Dollar Pledge has donated $1,205,000 to communities fighting for social justice! See all the good work Youth Service Inc is doing as well all the organizations that are part of my #MillionDollarPledge on kaepernick7.com! Check back in the next hour to see who else is joining!
This interview marks the first time that Black Mamba actually shared his personal stance on the issue. He has always supported Kaepernick and the right of every other person who kneeled with him. He said that his teammates would not have given him any static had he chosen to protest as well.
“From my experience in the locker room, it doesn’t seem like any of the players that I played with certainly would have had an issue with that,” Bryant explained. “I think we understand this is a free country. I think we have the right to peaceful protest.”
Bryant went on to define how freedom of speech looks for him. He said that for every citizen of this country, speaking freely is a fundamental right that cannot be hindered by anyone.
“And by the way, from my point of view, that’s what the flag represents as well.” Kobe continued. “The ability to speak. The ability to voice your opinion. And everybody is entitled to that. So everybody getting up in arms about it, they’re certainly in their right to do that, as we’re certainly in our right to protest – peacefully at that.”
According to former one-time Lakers teammate Roy Hibbert, Bryant predicted that Donald Trump would win the presidential election. But his foreshadowing analysis of the 2016 campaign was not a vote in favor of Trump. On the heels of calling Kaepernick and fellow protesters a “son of a bitch” and dis-inviting Steph Curry and the Warriors to the White House, Bryant took to Twitter to denounce the divisive leader’s antics. He believes that Trump and his base will never unite the country and make it great again.
A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can't possibly "Make America Great Again"
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) September 23, 2017