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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Kaepernick ‘Is Doing Just What Thomas Jefferson Said Should Be Done’


Tuesday on CNN’s “The Lead,” while discussing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem at a preseason football game, former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said Kaepernick was “doing just what Thomas Jefferson said should be done to speak out.”

Abdul-Jabbar said, “I think the best way for me to describe it, is he is doing just what Thomas Jefferson said should be done to speak out. Jefferson said it was important to protect the speech of people you don’t agree with, not the ones you do agree with. Freedom of speech is what helps make our country the greatest on earth. And we have to protect it for everybody. Mr. Kaepernick has issues he wants discussed. Maybe people don’t like his style or timing, but he is trying to call attention to issues important to him.”

Abdul-Jabbar added that he did understand the anger over Kaepernick’s  actions, saying, “I understand their displeasure with his choice of venue. You can argue with him about that. But what he is doing, calling attention to something that is important to him, I think it is also equally important to him. At least, and you know, the whole idea is to establish a dialogue. Maybe he can, next time, figure out a way to do it without stepping on so many toes. What he’s doing, using his position to call attention to something, is I think something that we should respect even though we don’t necessarily agree with his timing or tone. That is something for him to work out and hopefully he will work it out as a professional athlete. He has a great platform and I hope he puts it to good use.”

He continued, “I’m not condoning what he did, and I have only seen the still photographs of him sitting down. When we’re at war, and people are dying for that flag, I understand the sensitivity of people who paid such a heavy price for the patriotism. I understand where they’re coming from.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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