*During his appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Kobe Bryant said if he were still playing today that he would kneel during the national anthem before NBA games.
“Kneel,” Bryant said during a rapid-fire question-and-answer portion of the podcast.
Bryant was then asked what he would say if he could speak directly to President Donald Trump: “Focus on serving, not leading,” he said.
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The Lakers players recently decided to lock arms instead of kneel during the anthem. It’s a move that they and the coaches have done during the anthem for their first three preseason games.
“We are in this together,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said last week. “I think they chose to show that we are united in this and that obviously they have a ton of respect … well, I will let them speak for themselves, but I have a ton of respect for the country, the flag, the military.
“But by locking arms, I feel like we are showing that there are issues in this country, and it is a chance for us to raise awareness and still make it a talking point. If you do nothing, then it kind of goes away, and if it goes away, then nothing changes.”
Kobe Bryant retired in 2016 after winning five championships with the Lakers. He will have his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys retired at halftime of the Lakers game against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 18, per ABC News.
When Trump recently referred to players who protest as “sons of bitches,” it ignited a new round of demonstrations from NFL players and teams.