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J.R. Smith: U.S. flag doesn’t represent ‘what it’s supposed to’

J.R. Smith on Friday addressed his decision to stand a few feet behind his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates during the national anthem at a recent scrimmage.

Smith’s protest, as it were, occurred ahead of the Cavaliers’ scrimmage Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The veteran Cavs guard defended his decision to do so by stating, “I don’t feel like the flag represents what it’s supposed to at this point.”

“We obviously didn’t discuss what we were going to do as a team, and I definitely, I don’t feel, it’s not an easy situation for me with the national anthem,” Smith said following shootaround ahead of Friday’s exhibition against the Indiana Pacers, via Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon. “Especially coming from where I come from, it’s just not.

“I don’t feel like it’s represented the right way, obviously it’s a tough conversation for everybody, and it still needs to be, I wouldn’t say talked about, because there’s been a lot of conversations about it, it’s time to start doing. What efforts are we going to put towards it?”

Smith did lock arms with his Cavaliers teammates ahead of Wednesday’s exhibition opener against the Atlanta Hawks.

Cavaliers players, along with input from Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, decided that was the best way to approach the anthem ahead of Wednesday’s preseason game.

NBA rules specify that players are required to stand at attention during the anthem. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last month he expects players to continue the practice.

“Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem,” Silver said, via NBA.com. “And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now.”

Smith said he typically skips the anthem to stretch in the locker room, but added he will continue to participate in such a demonstration going forward if “that’s what the guys wanted to do.”