In the midst of players across sports following San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead and finding a way to protest the national anthem, media and fans are paying close attention to athletes’ behavior during the anthem more than ever.
This new fascination led us to a silent protest by David West of the Golden State Warriors. Prior to Sunday’s preseason game against the Toronto Raptors in Vancouver, West could be seen two feet behind the rest of his teammates. Though it would be easy to assume that West was inspired by Kaepernick, we soon found out that wasn’t the case.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) October 1, 2016
West was asked after the game about his decision to stand behind his teammates. The Golden State forward revealed this silent protest dates back to his time in New Orleans (West played in New Orleans from 2003-11).
This protest was apparently so subtle, Warriors forward Draymond Green and head coach Steve Kerr said after the game that they had never noticed West’s routine.
As West pointed out, his rationale behind his protest goes much deeper than Kaepernick’s.
“What about education? What about infant mortality? How about how we die younger and our babies die sooner?” power forward West told The Undefeated after the Warriors’ 97-93 preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors in Vancouver, British Columbia. “We die. [Black men] have the shortest life expectancy. C’mon, man. The health care system? There are so many [issues]. It’s like, whatever …
“I can’t start talking about civic issues. I can’t start talking about civility and being a citizen if m—–f—— don’t even think I’m a human being. How can you talk about progress and how humans interrelate with one another when you don’t even recognize our humanity? We got to somehow get that straight first so we’re on the same playing field. And that’s how I feel. There is just a lot of stuff, man.”
Aside from speaking on his decision, West also commented on Kaepernick’s protest.
“What he is doing is great, but I think it’s going to pass, too,” West said. “I’m not as optimistic about everything as everyone always seems to be. I don’t wear it on my sleeve like I used to. I’ve gotten older and a little bit more mature in terms of my thinking. But I understand human rights issues.
“Until you handle humanity, how do you get to talking about mass incarceration? How do you get to talk about our undereducated kids? How do we get to the health care system? How do we get to all that and you don’t even think I’m a human?”
Two of West’s teammates – Steph Curry and Green – have spoken publicly about Kaepernick’s protest. Both have stood behind the quarterback’s decision, which likely means they stand behind West too.
It would’ve been interesting to see how long West’s protest would’ve gone if it weren’t for our newfound fascination with players during the anthem. Either way, West’s silent protest has likely started another boisterous conversation.