Go off. LeBron James slammed Drew Brees for his National Anthem kneeling comment. The Los Angeles Lakers player criticized the NFL quarterback after Brees did an interview with Yahoo Finance this week, where he claimed that he will “never agree” with kneeling during the National Anthem. The comment was in reference to former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem at several NFL games in 2016 protest of police brutality and systemic racial violence in the United States, which many believe had led him to be blackballed from playing for any NFL team since.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said, noting that his two grandfathers were soldiers in World War II. “That brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”
He continued, “And is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.”
After Brees’ interview, James retweeted a video of the New Orleans Saint’s chat with Yahoo and slammed Brees’ comparison of taking the knee with not the U.S. military. “WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [the American flag] and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free,” the NBA star tweeted.
He continued, “My father-in-law was one of those men who fought as well for this country,” James continued. “I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitment. He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong! God bless you. 🙏🏾✊🏾👑.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also responded to Brees’ comments on Wednesday, June 3, by posting an Instagram photo of him and his teammates locking arms in solidarity with Black NFL players. “A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action. #wakeupamerica #itstimeforchange #loveoverfear❤️ #solidarity #libertyandjusticeforall #all,” he wrote in the caption.
In a statement to ESPN, Brees responded to the backlash, stating that he stands for racial equality and justice but still does not believe in kneeling during the National Anthem.
“I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice,” he said. “I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”
He continued, “I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms,” he continued. “That includes all those who marched for women’s suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us … EVERYONE … represent that flag. Same way I respect all the citizens of our country…no matter their race, color, religion.”
James’ response to Brees comes after the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25. Floyd died after police officer, Derek Chauvin, placed his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who were present but did nothing to prevent Floyd’s death were also arrested and charged with aiding and abetting murder.