Suns’ Tyson Chandler on Trump’s comments: ‘That’s a shot at humanity’
PHOENIX — Days after President Donald Trump’s call for NFL players sitting or kneeling in protest during the national anthem to be fired — and as he continued to tweet Monday against their decision to do so –, the onslaught of questions at NBA media days unsurprisingly came.
As the Phoenix Suns opened camp, Devin Booker only said he agreed with the Golden State Warriors’ decision to not visit the White House after their championship, which itself was met by the president revoking the traditional invite over the weekend.
Head coach Earl Watson wouldn’t speak on negativity.
Perhaps the strongest comment of Monday’s media day in response to Trump referring to players who kneel as a “son of a b****” came from veteran center Tyson Chandler.
“It’s very disheartening for the president of our country, the leader of our country, to make those kind of comments,” he said. “Not only that but it was very insulting. The (Trump calling kneeling NFL players a son of a b****) thing to me … you can’t get more insulting than that. I think everybody around the world should have taken that personal. That wasn’t a shot at NFL players. That’s a shot at humanity, to be honest.
“The one thing that’s coming from this is I see guys stepping up, and guys coming together from all walks of life. To me, that’s a positive from this.”
Trump’s criticism of players who protest during the national anthem incited a mass increase in such activism Sunday, with more than 100 NFL players sitting or kneeling, others raising their fists and whole teams standing with locked arms to display unity.
It’s hard to determine if and how NBA players might protest.
Unlike the NFL, the NBA’s rulebook requires players to stand in a “dignified posture” during the national anthem. Meanwhile, LeBron James, Chris Paul and other league leaders have already put their opinions online through social media.
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said the team will support any individual player’s right to free speech, citing some of the players supporting the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing t-shirts last year.
“We encourage them to speak out and speak their minds,” McDonough said. “They’re high profile guys, they’re well-paid guys. They have the platform. With our players and coaches, it’s two to three media appearances a day.
“I think it’s great if they use that platform for change or to try to advocate for change rather than saying, ‘both teams played hard. We want to win. We’re taking it day-by-day,’ or any old sports cliche.”
Watson, meanwhile, wouldn’t discuss the national narrative.
He thinks actions at the local level speak more loudly than wars of words.
“For me, it’s putting my energy in a way where we can bring people together. We know we’re not a perfect society,” Watson said. “Your involvement in community is very important.
“What goes on nationally is important but at the same time you have to do your part when you have a platform to give back,” he added. “The energy I want to waste on society is bringing people together and having a positive light.”