Colin Kaepernick has another ally in his protest of how people of color are treated in the U.S., and it’s a big one: two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
The Golden State Warriors star told CNBC’s Sara Eisen on Wednesday that he supports Kaepernick’s decision to sit (or kneel) during the national anthem, and that he considers the act an expression of free speech.
“I love that. I love that there’s freedom of speech and he can stand for what he believes in,” he said. “There’s going to be people that disagree with him, there’s going to be people that agree with him, which is what I think our country stands for, which hopefully will drive the conversation to bettering the equal rights and treatment of African-Americans and people of color.”
“I applaud him for taking a stand and hopefully the conversation is about his message, and not, ‘Is he going to stand or is he going to sit for the national anthem?’” Curry added.
“I love that there’s freedom of speech and he can stand for what he believes in.”
Another NBA legend, however, sees the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s protest differently.
“To each his own,” Shaquille O’Neal said Wednesday on “Fox and Friends.” “It’s something I wouldn’t do.”
“I don’t really have a say on it, but I would never do that,” O’Neal continued. “My father was a military man, and he protected this country. Uncles are in law enforcement, they go out and work hard every day. Just, you know — other ways to get your point across.”
Kaepernick refused to stand when “The Star-Spangled Banner” played before a preseason football game late last month, telling the NFL’s Steve Wyche he wanted to draw attention to racial inequalities in the U.S.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His jersey has since become the NFL’s best-seller. Kaepernick has pledged to donate $1 million to communities in need to demonstrate that he is focused on constructive action, not just protest.
A handful of other players have joined Kaepernick in the protest, including teammate Eric Reid, the Seattle Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane, and U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe.