The NBA and NFL have historically handled political player protests quite differently. In 2014, the NBA allowed its players to wear "I Can't Breathe" shirts after a police officer choked Eric Garner to death. The NFL, meanwhile, has been accused of blackballing Colin Kaepernick and attempting to silence players from protesting the national anthem.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Kaepernick would have been welcomed in the NBA, and Kaep—the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback—has received support from a number of current NBA players. Add another big-name basketball figure to that list: Kobe Bryant.
The longtime Lakers great sat down for an interview with Jemele Hill, who recently joined The Undefeated's staff, and said he would join in the anthem protests if he were still an active NBA player.
Here's how Kobe explained his stance:
"Yeah, I would have participated in it, for sure," Bryant said. "I'm sure I would have gotten some flak for it. That's fine. I think that Colin's message was a very simple one. It was police brutality needs to stop; we need to take a look at that…I think we understand this is a free country. I think we have the right to peaceful protest. And by the way, from my point of view, that's what the flag represents as well: the ability to speak. The ability to voice your opinion. And everybody is entitled to that. So everybody getting up in arms about it, they're certainly in their right to do that, as we're certainly in our right to protest—peacefully at that."
This isn't the first time Kobe has been politically outspoken recently. In September, he fired off a tweet criticizing President Donald Trump.
A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can't possibly "Make America Great Again"— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) September 23, 2017