On Friday, the NBA sent a memo out to its teams reminding them the league has a rule stating players and coaches must stand for the national anthem.
The memo, which was obtained by ESPN, instructs teams that "the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem."
The memo states that individual teams "do not have the discretion to waive" the anthem-standing rule.
Additionally, during a press conference, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver explained that he expects players to stand to for the anthem.
"We have a rule that requires our players to stand for the anthem. It's been our rule as long as I've been involved with the league and my expectation is that the players will continue to stand for the anthem," Silver said.Cleveland Cavs guard JR Smith responded to news of the existing rule with a very pithy tweet.
Yea Ight https://t.co/vKUcOajaOm— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) October 1, 2017
It's unclear to what (if any) extent the NBA will punish those who violate its anthem rule. In a league that's around 75 percent black, strict enforcement of the rule would probably trigger a player backlash.
On the other hand, some have attributed the NFL's rating slump to the anti-police brutality protests that began with former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick last year and have included kneeling during the national anthem.
So it will be interesting to see how the league does react if someone like Smith pushes the issue.
What do you think will happpen?
[Related: J. Cole returns to Twitter with talk of NFL boycott.]