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Utah Jazz, Pelicans players reportedly discussing kneeling during anthem in NBA opener

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A basketball court is shown at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee, Fla., Tuesday, July 21, 2020. The NBA's marketing motto for the restart of the season at Walt Disney World is “Whole New Game,” and in many respects, that’s very true. (AP Photo/Tim Reynolds)

The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly discussing a plan on how to handle the re-opening of the NBA season Thursday.

ESPN is reporting that the plans may involve players surrounding Black Lives Matter signs on the court and kneeling during the national anthem Thursday in the very first game of the renewed season at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time.


"The Pelicans and Jazz are adamant that they want to display a united front, sources said," according to ESPN. The groups don't want to be separate in protest and are expected to be joined by coaches in the demonstrations against police brutality. The NBA provided players with 29 pre-approved messages to wear on the back of uniforms for the unique conclusion to the season that was disrupted when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

Gobert said at the time he wished he had taken the virus, that has now killed more than 150,000 U.S. residents and more than 666,000 people worldwide, more seriously.

His positive test result quickly cancelled sports at every level in the days that followed. The NBA has set up a "bubble" where all participating teams will stay and compete in games. League players said long before they traveled to the area that they didn't want to distract for a fight for social justice that has gripped the United States and even the world. George Floyd, a Black man, was kneeled on and killed by a Minneapolis police officer for more than seven minutes.

The Utah Jazz announced earlier in the week which messages players had selected to be be on the backs of their jerseys.

Other teams are also expected to expand the peaceful protest during the playing of the anthem.

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