The OKC Thunder are slated to play their first seeding game of the 2019-20 restart. And, just like everyone else, they are expected to take part in the BLM protests by kneeling for the national anthem.
Unfortunately, though, that decision may come at a rather expensive cost. In a statement, Oklahoma lawmaker Sean Roberts threatened to take away the Thunder organization’s current tax benefits if they don't stand.
Here's the full statement, via Hicham Raache of News Channel 8.
“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024.
Perhaps these funds would be better served in support of our police departments rather than giving tax breaks to an organization that supports defunding police and the dissolution of the American nuclear family.”
There is no indication that the Thunder players plan to stand, but no official response has been released by the team.
As one of the smallest market teams in the NBA, the team is no doubt the Thunder are enjoying the tax breaks currently being afforded to them. Their effort to preserve cash is part of the reason they traded James Harden back in 2012 and part of the reason they couldn't keep PG and Russ happy last summer.
Needless to say, kneeling today could have some pretty serious implications and may even lead to talks about relocation.
We'll see how they respond and how their decision impacts their long-term future.