Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry chose Veterans Day to voice his view that peaceful protest and respect for the military are not contradictory acts.
Curry, who grew up in Charlotte and starred for Davidson, has played each of his previous eight NBA seasons in the Bay Area. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was widely criticized for choosing to kneel, rather than stand, last season during the national anthem before games.
No NFL team chose to sign Kaepernick, who has filed a grievance accusing teams of colluding not to sign him. Various NBA and NFL athletes have reacted to this situation with protests of their own, as when Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers chose not to be on the field for the anthem at a Sept. 24 game this season.
Curry wrote in the online Players Tribune Saturday that these protests, directed at social inequities, are not a slight toward current or former military personnel.
One of the beliefs I hold most dear is how proud I am to be an American, and how incredibly thankful I am for our troops.
“When someone tells me my stances, or athlete stances in general, are ‘disrespecting the military’ – which has become a popular thing to accuse peaceful protestors of – it’s something I’m going to take very, very seriously.
“One of the beliefs I hold most dear is how proud I am to be an American, and how incredibly thankful I am for our troops. I know how fortunate I am to live in this country, and to do what I do for a living, and to raise my daughters in peace and prosperity.”
Curry went on to say he’s spoken to a number of military personnel, active or retired, to explain his positions and reinforce that no slight is intended to them. Rather, this is about spreading awareness of social issues and advocating for change.
“Whether it’s been Colin kneeling, or entire NFL teams finding their own ways to show unity, or me saying that I didn’t want to go to the White House (in response to President Donald Trump’s positions), it’s the opposite of disrespectful to them.
“A lot of them have said, that even if they don’t totally agree with every position of every person, this is exactly the thing that they fought to preserve: the freedom of every American to express our struggles, our fears, our frustrations and our dreams for a more equal society.”
Michael (the veteran) told me that our veterans need real action. They need real help with medical services, and access to jobs, and readjusting to society.
Stephen Curry, on a conversation he had with a veteran
Curry recently met a veteran who served in Afghanistan when the NBA star’s wife, Ayesha, opened her restaurant. They had a long conversation that enlightened Curry on the struggles veterans face after they return from active service, including proper medical care from Veterans Affairs.
“It’s not just about saluting them or thanking them for their service at the airport, and and it’s definitely not just about how we observe the national anthem. Michael (the veteran) told me that our veterans need real action. They need real help with medical services, and access to jobs, and readjusting to society.”
Curry has been publicly critical of President Trump, at one point calling him a “ass.” Trump mentioned Curry specifically in a tweet, rescinding an invitation to the Warriors to visit the White House.
Curry said he found Trump’s tweet “surreal.” He felt it important Saturday to focus, not on national anthems, but on veterans’ needs.
“Let’s celebrate our veterans, by having a conversation about the actual ways that we as civilians, as their fellow Americans they’ve fought to protect, can hold up our end of the bargain.
“Let’s talk about the broken VA medical system, and traumatic brain injuries, and (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Curry wrote. “But let’s also talk about homelessness, and unemployment, and mental health, and, yes, racial inequality.”