A day after hundreds of National Football League players took a knee during the national anthem, the Memphis Grizzlies head coach defended those players.
The issue again came to the forefront after President Donald Trump said this weekend NFL players should be fired or suspended for such on-field demonstrations.
Coach David Fizdale said he is 100% behind his team whatever they decide to do, but whether the team is 100% unified in a position on the national anthem, that’s too early to tell.
When Local 24’s Brad Broders asked, “If your team decides to take a knee, you’ll take a knee?” Coach Fizdale responded, “Absolutely. There’s no gray area to that.”
Coach Fizdale didn’t mince his words on supporting his squad peacefully demonstrating during the national anthem.
“Our guys are closely connected to this community and it’s bigger than basketball,” Coach Fizdale said.
The second-year Grizzlies head coach took strong objection to President Donald Trump’s recent comments, when he argued any player who took a knee during the national weren’t proud of their country, their flag or their service members.
“You want to talk about disrespecting our military, go through his tweets, right?” Coach Fizdale said. “Let’s go down the line. John McCain, transgender in the military.”
Monday, Grizzlies players expressed a mixture of opinions on whether they’d support kneeling during the anthem as a team.
“My family fought for this country, I think its the best country in the world so I would hate to do anything that’s going disrespect that just because of the president,” Chandler Parsons said.
“It’s not disrespecting to our country, it’s not disrespecting to our service men and women, it’s bigger than that,” Mike Conley said.
Whatever happens, Memphian’s will find out next Monday at the Grizzlies preseason home opener.
During Grizzlies media day Monday, Coach Fizdale also discussed his continued support of removing Confederate statues in Memphis, statues currently protected by state law.
Last season, Coach Fizdale set up a Police Athletic League in Memphis and told Local 24 he plans to participate in an inmate training program and expand urban farms to low-income neighborhoods.