Before Kentucky and Florida tipped off down in Gainesville, the UK basketball team took a knee as the national anthem was played in Florida’s O’Connell Center. After the game, John Calipari was asked what conversations, if any, the team had before the decision to kneel together.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of conversations,” Calipari explained. “I heard that they wanted to do it when we were on the way to the arena, so I called the three leaders in and I said, ‘talk to me,’ and they said they wanted to kneel.
“I said, ‘tell me why,’ and they said, ‘this is why,’ and I said, ‘OK.’ They said, ‘will you kneel with us,’ and I said, ‘do you want me to,’ and they said, ‘yes we do,’ and I said, ‘OK, I’ll kneel with you.'”
He added, “These kids are good kids and they care about this country and all of the other stuff. They’re trying to figure out life and making statements they feel they have to make, and I want to listen to what they’re saying and then I’ll support them if they want me to be there. If they said, ‘we’re good by ourselves,’ I probably wouldn’t have been out there.”
Keion Brooks spoke on behalf of the players in the locker room. The sophomore leader of the group, Brooks told reporters, “I think the message pretty much stands for itself. We just came together as the leaders of the team—me, Davion and Olivier, and we decided this is something we wanted to do, to take a stand against what we’re seeing in the world today. We brought it to Coach and Coach was with us, and it was great to have the head man in charge backing you with whatever you do.”
Asked why now and if the situation at the Capitol played into the decision, Brooks said, “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on everyday that we knelt for. The Capitol, that stuff had a part to play in it, but there’s some other things that we don’t see that go on everyday that are unacceptable and that we want to take a stand against.”
Together as one pic.twitter.com/4cWrZw8z74
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 9, 2021