Warriors' Kevin Durant: 'Sports is what brings us all together'

ByChris Haynes ESPN logo
Monday, September 25, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State Warriors forwards Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala support the NFL players who have chosen to kneel in a peaceful protest during the national anthem in the aftermath of President Donald Trump's Twitter attacks.

"Sports is the United States. Sports is what brings us all together," Durant said Sunday after training camp practice.

"A couple hours out of the day, you see people from different walks of life coming together and celebrating a sport. That's what it's all about. Obviously, wins and losses and who's the best, that stuff is fine, but the bigger picture in sports, it just brings us all together, and you get to enjoy each other for a couple hours. And I think our NFL players are doing a great job of sending a great message, and we stand behind them as athletes, and we support them as well."

Trump has sent out a series of Tweets the past few days urging NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to order players to stand for the anthem. If they refused to comply, he suggested that the insubordinate players be fired or suspended. But arguably his most flammable comments on the matter occurred at a rally on Friday, when he said: "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."

On Sunday, players across the NFL responded by opting to take a knee or a seat. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans stayed in the locker room during the national anthem. The Seattle Seahawks said they will not participate in the anthem ceremony, and owners from around the league have issued statements condemning Trump's rhetoric.

"I think you see people uniting and coming together," Iguodala said. "And before, those [players] have been afraid to take a stand because they didn't want it to affect their brand or affect their family. They felt like it would have some type of effect on their compensation or their image. I think what it's shown is that we're not going to accept the issue that has been ignored for so long and that's been done in our face so many times So, I think it's good to see them uniting and in one accord. There's a lot of power in that, when everyone is on the same page."

The Warriors, and more specifically Stephen Curry, are all too familiar with Trump's Twitter presence. Even though players would have voted to not visit the White House to celebrate their championship, Trump made his opinion knownbefore the team could take a vote and tweeted Saturday morning: "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

Most of the Warriors players were amused. Durant, who has been vocal about his displeasure toward Trump and his actions, said he has Curry's back.

"My reaction was we stand behind Steph, obviously," Durant said. "That's our brother, our teammate, and he's our leader. We follow behind him, and we stand behind him. We support him in this time. It's a crazy, crazy world we're living in, especially when our president just goes at people on Twitter. But that's just the nature of the beast right now. I'm very proud of how our organization handled everything, all the players handled everything. At the end of the day, we want our voices to be heard, and we want to play basketball and inspire people to be better. And I think playing for the Warriors, playing at the highest level of basketball, it allows us to impact people on another level. So if we focus on that and also using our voice for good, it makes me proud to be a part of this organization."

He later reiterated his stance on Trump: "I just don't agree with the president that's in office right now. I don't believe in what he believes in, and I'm all about equality. I'm not a big politics guy, but I know right from wrong, and I think I know how most people want to be treated."

Some NFL players even wore black pregame "#IMWITHKAP" T-shirts in an effort to show solidarity with free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the kneeling to protest police brutality and racial injustice last season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It just raises awareness," Iguodala said. "They got away from that. They tried to make it about a different issue. Those that weren't in favor of what Kap and what other guys were taking a stand for, but he had a message behind it, and they didn't want to hear that message because it was so true and hit so close to home. But that's what it's all about. But like I said before, when it's thrown in your face so many times and so blatantly, it comes to a point when you have to stop walking backward."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said there have not been any conversations about the team taking knees during the anthem or any other methods of protesting peacefully. He did add that if his players wanted to talk about it, he would listen and be open.

If they do decide to protest, it doesn't appear that the defending NBA champions will do so by kneeling.

"Our faces are shown more, so when we do speak, with the nature of the NBA right now, you hear us a little bit more because you recognize our face," Iguodala said. "When Kap did take that stand, not that he became more popular, but his name became more reoccurring because you can see his face now attached to that. You can see our face already, and we have other avenues we can go down. Not that we wouldn't, but it just isn't ours."

Durant said he doesn't know if the team will end up doing something, but if they agree on a demonstration, his objective is to promote equality.

"We have a huge platform, and people watch us on TV. We want to spread a great message, a message of equality," Durant said. "We want to do this thing together, man. It's simple. It's not about parties or anything. People just want to be treated equally and fair. And not by the color of their skin or what they worship or who they are, just for them being people, we want everybody to be together and equal. It's great that our NFL players and NBA players are standing together and using our platforms for good."

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