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Mike Budenholzer pledges “full support” of players concerning potential protests

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The sports world is buzzing about political and social issues.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Monday’s Media Day festivities serve as the unofficial tip-off to the 2017-2018 NBA season for the Atlanta Hawks. While there was plenty of basketball talk in the mix (talk that we will center on the vast majority of the time in this space), head coach Mike Budenholzer was asked about the current political and social climate in the country on the heels of widespread protests in the NFL on Sunday, and if the Hawks had discussed the future as a team.

Here is what he had to say:

“We met for a little bit before we came here this morning. I think it’s a conversation the whole country is having, I’m assuming most if not all teams are having. At the end of the day, I think our players are incredible human beings and thoughtful and we just encourage them to think deeply about what’s happening in our country, to care deeply about not just what’s happening but about our country.

I think if they do those two things, if they think deeply and they care deeply our country will be a better place, our conversation will be in a better place. Most importantly, they have my support, they have the organization’s support to express themselves or not to express themselves in any way they feel is important. Their experiences have shaped their lives. They’re really unique people and they have a lot to offer and a lot to say in some cases and they have our full support.”

Budenholzer’s comments won’t please absolutely everyone but the major message of “full support” to the team’s players is one that makes a lot of sense. It remains to be seen as to whether members of the team will make individual decisions or, potentially, whether the team will display unity together in some way, but at the outset of the campaign, Budenholzer was clear in that the organization won’t stand in any player’s way.

From a player standpoint, Mike Muscala indicated that he will choose to stand for the national anthem but referenced that as his decision. Beyond that, he shared that he respects the right and decision for anyone that chooses in another direction. Elsewhere, other opinions may surface over the course of Media Day activities.

Stay tuned.