Every member of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever knelt and linked arms in protest as the national anthem played before their playoff game on Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
The New York Times reports that two players from the opposing Phoenix Mercury also joined in the demonstration, while the rest of the Mercury team members stayed on their feet.
The Fever’s coach, Stephanie White, also remained standing during the song, but she expressed support for her players, according to ESPN. After “The Star-Spangled Banner” concluded, she entered the team huddle and said, “I’m proud of y’all for doing that together, being in that together. That’s big. That’s big. It’s bigger than basketball, right? Bigger than basketball.”
The win-or-go-home first-round playoff game featured two of the sport’s biggest stars, Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi and Indiana’s Tamika Catchings, who wound up her career with the Fever’s 89-78 defeat.
Catchings knelt in protest with her teammates, while Taurasi stood. But the three-time NCAA champion at the University of Connecticut and four-time Team USA Olympic gold medalist proclaimed her support nonetheless.
“Whether you kneel or stand, everyone is against injustice and people being discriminated against and being killed,” Taurasi said, per ESPN. “Those are things as a society we have to get better at.”
The demonstration was the latest involving prominent national athletes who — often in the face of sharp criticism — have followed the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sat or knelt during preseason football games to protest police treatment of African-Americans.
It also came on the same night that a state of emergency was declared in Charlotte, North Carolina, after protests over recent police killings of black men turned violent.