As the National Football League struggles to come up with an explanation for decreasing viewership in the first month of the season to avoid acknowledging the simple truth that fans would rather go to the movies, do yard work or take a nap on the couch rather than watch players kneel during the national anthem before games, the NBA has joined the Black Lives Matter movement – but in a new low.

Singer Denasia Lawrence performed the Star Spangled Banner before a Miami Heat NBA preseason game on Friday – with one knee on the floor at center court.

The singer later explained on her Facebook page that the “opportunity was bigger than me,” and not just an attention-getting ploy, saying it was a way of “respectfully protesting” what she calls, “a war on Black & Brown bodies - we're being unjustly killed and overly criminalized.”

Although the African-American social worker claimed the decision was spur-of-the-moment, made just moments before she walked onto the court, she was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt under her turquoise blue blazer, which she revealed during the anthem.

Some professional, college and even middle-school athletes have followed the lead of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick who took a knee during the anthem at a ‘49ers preseason game.

Kaepernick, who is half-black, was raised by a white family and is, reputedly, converting to the Muslim faith.

The move has drawn criticism – and reduced viewership of NFL games – as being disrespectful of law enforcement officers by its connotation that police unfairly target African-Americans.

The NBA requires players and coaches to remain standing during the singing of the national anthem before games, but does not specifically set forth repercussions or fines for the deliberate failure to do so.

The Heat issued an official statement disavowing any prior knowledge or warning of Lawrence’s “protest” and the players and coaches stood, locking arms in what they term “a show of unity,” but it is unlikely NBA teams will be able to avoid the controversy that has surrounded the refusal to honor the traditional singing of the nation’s anthem before sports events.

The Heat lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, 110 to 113.

Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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