Kings guard Ben McLemore said Sunday that recent comments he made regarding protests during the national anthem have been taken out of context in the media.
McLemore addressed “a story that misconstrued my thoughts” in a tweet posted about 2 a.m. Sunday.
His statement is an apparent response to a story appearing in TMZ late Saturday night, headlined “NBA’s Ben McLemore: Kneeling NFL Players ... NOT REPRESENTING AMERICA.” The story goes on to say McLemore told TMZ Sports that NFL players are disrespecting the nation and should stop kneeling.
“The headline is misleading and doesn’t match my thoughts or feelings on the matter,” McLemore says in his response statement, which does not explicitly mention TMZ.
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“I stand during the national anthem because I believe in doing so, not because I think anyone is disrespecting their country by taking a knee. I never once said that.”
NBC Bay Area’s James Ham wrote that McLemore’s answer “morphed into a sensationalized headline and lede on TMZ.com.”
The headline and story came following a brief video interview of McLemore by a TMZ reporter, occurring outside a Hollywood nightclub. The reporter asked McLemore about his opinion on ESPN’s decision not to air the national anthem before NFL games.
“I mean, you should always represent our nation,” McLemore answered. “You know what I’m saying, that’s how I feel.”
McLemore also told the reporter: “We (NBA players) show appreciation to the nation.”
McLemore says his answer was “lost in translation” and that he has “nothing but respect for those who take a stance and voice their opinions.”
“I believe the best we can do is continue the conversation; continue the search for the answer, and try to arrive at a place where love and compassion for each other beat out hate,” McLemore’s note concludes.
The 25-year-old shooting guard was traded to the Kings this summer from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Garrett Temple.
Here’s McLemore’s full statement:
Protests during the national anthem began in August 2016 when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, now a free agent, began kneeling during the anthem before games as a form of silent protest.
Other NFL players also began protesting during the anthem, which led NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce a policy that would fine players for not standing. Enforcement of that policy has been frozen following discussions between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, The Associated Press reported last month.