Kevin Durant, who is set to play for the United States at the Olympics, and his Brooklyn Nets teammate Kyrie Irving have been boycotting the national anthem before National Basketball Association games since at least January, an author who has written a book about the team says.
Matt Sullivan, who wrote "Can't Knock the Hustle," which follows the Nets during the COVID-19 pandemic, asserts in a piece in GQ that the two NBA all-stars have been walking off the court during warmups and remaining hidden from public view while "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played before games.
"After he returned to the court in January, Kyrie Irving began slipping out of pre-game warmups ten minutes before tipoff, disappearing into the shadowy tunnel of an arena — and skipping the national anthem," Sullivan wrote.
"Kevin Durant would silently follow about a minute after Irving, as the cameras cut to commercial and the lights went down. Their teammate DeAndre Jordan joined, too, before the Brooklyn Nets stars hustled back to the huddle in time for starting lineups."
Sullivan posted to his Twitter feed videos accounting for the two missing from February to June:
"Mid-February: A confidant of Kyrie saw him go to the locker room before the anthem at the NBA All-Star Game. Mid-April: Durant + Jordan weren't on court for anthem at Nets game in Minneapolis that was delayed after the killing of Daunte Wright. (Kyrie took day off work). (6/15)"
"Mid-April: Here's Kyrie walking back to the tunnel. KD followed. Nets staffer says it's not a bathroom break or extra stretching. Kyrie + DeAndre declined to comment, KD's reps didn't respond to detailed list of questions (7/15)"
"Mid-May: Here's KD walking out of layup lines. 'Everybody kinda has their own little routines,' says Nets staffer who's stood alongside KD off-court during anthem. 'But there's no direct conversation going on' about politics before games. (8/15)"
"June: Here's DeAndre Jordan hustling back oncourt as the lights come up after the anthem at Game 2 of Nets playoffs series vs. Bucks. DJ used to stand there and remember a friend who died in a car accident but hasn't been out for The Star-Spangled Banner this year. (9/15)"
"… and here's Durant walking off court before Game 6 anthem. Last time I spoke to KD for my book, we recalled how protests over a police killing in 2018 nearly shut down a game and how the injustice hadn't stopped. 'No,' he said, 'and it won't.' (10/15)"
In one particular game, when Irving wasn't on the court during the national anthem, Sullivan sent Irving a message asking him if it had something to do with "The Star-Spangled Banner," but Irving did not respond.
It was unclear if Durant would continue his practice at the Olympics, with the International Olympic Committee warning athletes of sanctions if they engage in any manner of political protests during the playing of national anthems, including kneeling, raising fists or displaying messages.
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