Saturday Sports: NFL And Knee Protests
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now it's time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Sports? Sports? I mean history. The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 109-99 last night to go to a Game 7 tomorrow. Can you believe it? And the NFL owners are taking a big stand on players taking a knee during the national anthem.
Accompanied by the strains of BJ Leiderman's theme music for our program, we're joined now by NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Always a pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: Yes. I'm going - I'm not going to sing "Cleveland Rocks" for you today. You know why?
GOLDMAN: I'm disappointed.
SIMON: I'm saving it for the finals. That's the kind of faith I have. Look, I've been watching the highlights over and over. Although there's a lot of important news, LeBron James - not just a league of his own. Is he on a planet of his own?
GOLDMAN: Well, reportedly, members of the International Astronomical Union...
GOLDMAN: ...Are involved in deep discussions to bring Pluto back into the planetary fold and rename it LeBron James.
SIMON: I'd be a member of that, yeah.
GOLDMAN: Forty-six points in 46 minutes last night - his seventh game of these playoffs scoring 40 or more. He played all but two minutes of the game last night - an elimination game, by the way.
GOLDMAN: Because, of course, the Cavs lost their second-best player Kevin Love after he bonked heads with a Boston player. Now Love is questionable for tomorrow's Game 7. So Mr. James has to iron his Superman cape quickly because he'll need it, and his teammates will, of course, have to contribute as well.
The game's in Boston where the Celtics are 10-0 in these playoffs. They have to be favored. But really, Scott, can you really bet against LeBron James in Game 7 the way he's been playing?
SIMON: No, no. (Singing) I feel the - I'm sorry. I promise not till the finals. NBA West finals are Rockets at Golden State tonight. One game away from clinching the series, but I don't know, bet against the Dubs at home?
GOLDMAN: I wouldn't under normal circumstances in a do-or-die game. On top of that, the Rockets' guard Chris Paul is out with a strained hamstring. That's a huge injury. I like the Warriors. Get to a Game 7. We'll see what happens in Houston.
SIMON: We're still months away from football, but the NFL owners announced a rule against kneeling during the playing of the national anthem this week. Players can stay inside the locker room if they want, but if they're on the field, they've got to stand. Do owners have the right to do - say that? Will players accept that?
GOLDMAN: Well, owners do have the right because NFL teams are private companies. They can do what they want and enact rules for their employees. Now some players will accept the new policy, but you're also hearing that some who didn't plan to protest this season are so angry, they may, in fact, do it at the risk of getting their teams fined.
SIMON: And other forms of protest, right?
GOLDMAN: Well, there may be. You know, I talked to Glenn Bracey. He teaches sociology at Villanova and closely studies social movements. He says some players might look for different, more creative ways to demonstrate. Bracey thinks touchdown celebrations may be the way to go.
GLENN BRACEY: I can imagine, for instance, players celebrating in the end zone, recreating the 1968 John Carlos and Tommie Smith pose from - you know, with the black power fist up or other protest images that would get across the same message but could be read as a regular part of celebration and not a violation of the rules.
SIMON: And Monday night, first match of the Stanley Cup Finals between a longtime-losing franchise and a brand-new franchise that has never known defeat, Tom.
GOLDMAN: Amazing. The hard-luck Washington Capitals finally in their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years versus the brand-spanking-new expansion Golden Knights from Las Vegas - didn't even exist a year ago. We've already had a great tweet about the matchup by Canadian sports broadcaster Ian Mendes. It said, so the Stanley Cup Final will feature a morally bankrupt city that is built on corruption, greed and deceit against Las Vegas.
SIMON: (Laughter) Tom Goldman, thanks.
GOLDMAN: It's going to be a great one.
SIMON: Thanks so much, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.