NBA Basketball

Durant endorses NFL protests

(Photo by Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- NBA superstar Kevin Durant watched the NFL demonstrations play out across the nation on Sunday and was pleased with what he witnessed.

The Golden State Warriors forward, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, became part of the conflict between sports stars and President Donald Trump last month when he said he did not want to celebrate the team's title at the White House with Trump.

On Saturday, Trump declined to offer the NBA champions an invitation to the White House after seeing comments from star guard Stephen Curry.

And Trump's decision to direct a derogatory term at NFL players who protest during the national anthem on Friday resonated with athletes of multiple sports. On Sunday, more NFL players than ever did not stand for the anthem, and the league and individual teams issued statements backing the players' right to do so.

Durant said, "Sports is what brings us all together," and he felt Sunday was an opportunity to deliver a message.

"We have a huge platform, and people watch us on TV. We want to spread a great message, a message of equality," Durant said after the Warriors' practice Sunday. "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."

Tensions among NFL players rose after Trump strongly criticized players who protest during the national anthem while he was speaking at a rally.

"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!'" Trump said.

Veteran Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala was pleased with the response of the NFL players. He sees the situation as a moment where those who typically don't have a voice can now exercise their rights.

"I think you see people uniting and coming together," Iguodala said. "And before, those 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 were on the receiving end of Trump's Twitter comments after Curry expressed reservations about visiting the White House.

Trump tweeted the following: "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating; therefore invitation is withdrawn."

The Warriors' organization responded with a statement that read, in part, "(We) accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We're disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise."

Still, Durant didn't appreciate the president's tone in his tweet and asserts he is fully in support of Curry.

"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."

Updated September 24, 2017

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