PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers held a team meeting Thursday and may take action in the wake of the organization’s decision to cancel the national anthem performance by a singer wearing a “We Matter” jersey.
Philadelphia 76ers t-shirts line the seats prior to an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Sevyn Streeter said she was told by the team she could not perform the anthem before Wednesday night’s season opener because of the slogan.
The Sixers players met at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, and are considering whether to respond to Streeter’s cancellation.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Robert Covington in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Thunder won 103-97. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
“Everybody expressed their emotions about it,” forward Robert Covington said. “We want to take steps about it. We just don’t know exactly what steps we want to take. We talked about a lot of different things.”
The Sixers play at home Saturday afternoon against Atlanta.
Streeter said in an interview with The Associated Press late Wednesday she was told she would not sing just minutes before her performance.
“I’d say two minutes before we were about to walk out … the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game,” the R&B singer said by phone. “I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe.”
The Sixers declined to say why Streeter’s performance was canceled.
“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community,” the Sixers said in a statement.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Dancer Jemila performs the national anthem prior to an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia 76ers national anthem singer Sevyn Streeter said she was told by the team she could not perform because of her “We Matter” jersey. The Sixers had Jemila sing the anthem. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
The Sixers had a member of their dance team sing the anthem.
Sixers management declined comment on Thursday.
Coach Brett Brown said there are several options on the table.
“We understand the situation and we respect the social issue involved,” Brown said Thursday. “We completely get it. As a group, we will try to find a way to deal with this.”
Streeter has written songs for Chris Brown, Ariana Grande and other stars. In 2013, she had a Top 40 hit with “It Won’t Stop,” a duet with Brown that reached RIAA gold status.
The singer, born Amber Denise Streeter, said she was hurt by the NBA team’s actions.
“I was angry, extremely, extremely angry and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart,” she said. “Honestly, I was very excited about being able to perform the national anthem. I was really looking forward to that.”
This isn’t the first time the Sixers were brought into a national anthem controversy. A woman performing the national anthem before the team played a preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at midcourt.
Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket just before she started to sing, revealing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, then dropped to her left knee and performed the song. She said it was her way of protesting racial oppression.
The anthem issue has been a major topic in sports in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand while it is played. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports — and many levels, from youth all the way to professional — have followed his lead in various ways.
“I also felt it was important to express the ongoing challenges and ongoing injustice we face as a black community within the United States of America — that’s very important to me,” Streeter said. “Yes, we live in the greatest country in the world but there are issues that we cannot ignore. This can’t be ignored.”