The Kings and Los Angeles Lakers became the latest NBA teams to show unity by interlocking arms during the national anthem before Tuesday night’s preseason game at Honda Center.
Such displays in sports have spread in recent weeks, sparked by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States.
Nothing is going to be perfect, certainly on the first night.
Dave Joerger, Kings coach
Before training camp opened last week, many Kings expressed a desire to make a statement about social issues, but they emphasized any gesture would be done as a team and discussed beforehand.
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Other athletes have joined Kaepernick by kneeling for the anthem. The WNBA’s Indiana Fever did it as a team last month.
Interlocking arms and standing during the anthem still allows players to remain in compliance with an NBA rule that states, “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture.”
First time out – The Kings’ first starting lineup of the preseason featured Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo at guard, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins at forward and Kosta Koufos at center.
To begin the second half, Ty Lawson and Ben McLemore were the guards, Anthony Tolliver and Omri Casspi were the forwards and Willie Cauley-Stein was at center.
109.1 League-high points allowed per game by the Kings last season
Before the game, Joerger said he wasn’t sure how his rotations would go. He was more interested in seeing his team’s effort.
“Nothing is going to be perfect, certainly on the first night,” he said.
Joerger’s objective was to “play against another team, work on our stuff and to defensively get after people.”
The defensive strategy already is generating enthusiasm from the players, especially the holdovers. Last season, the Kings allowed a league-high 109.1 points per game.
McLemore said Joerger wants his guards to be aggressive defensively while adhering to principles.
“Not letting our man beat us to the middle, getting in the paint and things like that,” McLemore said.
Bumper-to-bumper – Joerger and Lakers coach Luke Walton were about 15 minutes late for their pregame media sessions for the same reason. Both were on team buses stuck in notorious Southern California afternoon traffic.