Kentucky Basketball Team Blasted By State Officials For Kneeling During National Anthem

The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team decided to take a page out of Colin Kaepernick’s playbook last weekend by kneeling during the national anthem before their game against Florida.

Together as one pic.twitter.com/4cWrZw8z74

— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 9, 2021

Kentucky Hit With Backlash

Unfortunately for them, this has quickly come back to bite them, as officials from all over the state are blasting the team for disrespecting Americans and veterans alike with this move.

In response to the team taking a knee, Kentucky Sheriff John Root said in a video posted to social media:

“I’m Sheriff John Root here, with my good friend Jailer Jamie Mosley, and we’re kind of discussing the outrage last night of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. That disrespected our American flag and our National Anthem.”

Root and Jamie Mosley, who runs the Laurel County Correctional Center, were so disgusted by the move that they burned their University of Kentucky shirts.

They are offering “Back the Badge” t-shirts that honor first responders to people who want to get rid of their UK shirts. He invited them to bring their shirts to the jail for the trade.

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Here’s what they have to say:

Laurel County Sheriff and Jailer burn their UK shirts in protest of UK kneeling last game pic.twitter.com/fyy71mnSJZ

— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) January 11, 2021

Knox County Fiscal Court Slams ‘Unpatriotic’ Gesture

The Knox County Fiscal Court was so enraged over the “unpatriotic” gesture by the basketball team that it called on state officials to reallocate taxes “from unpatriotic recipients to hard-working Kentucky (taxpayers) across this Commonwealth.”  

Knox County Judge Executive Mike Mitchell defended this call by pointing out that there is a statue honoring veterans located right outside the courthouse.

“We’ve got names of people out here on this monument that’s given up their life for our country,” Mitchell said. “(The university) receives millions and millions of dollars every year of hardworking Kentucky taxpayers’ money. I think they need to be held accountable for their actions if they can’t manage it no better than that.”

The court went on to explain that its goal is for this to serve as a “call of action to denounce the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team and the coaching staff for refusing to stand during the national anthem of the United States of America. This action lacks respect for the veterans that have served our country.”

Related: NFL Legend Mike Ditka: ‘If You Can’t Respect Our National Anthem, Get The H*LL Out Of The Country’

Kentucky Player And Coach Stand By The Protest

Despite the backlash, University of Kentucky Forward Olivier Sarr defended the team’s kneeling. 

“I think our action speaks for itself,” Sarr told ESPN. “What happened in the past few days, few weeks and even during quarantine, we just want to show support for our community and raise awareness on the things that happened lately. It comes from a place of understanding peaceful conversations and being open-minded. That’s it.”

Here’s Olivier Sarr when asked about some of the negative reaction the Kentucky basketball team received on social media after the took a knee in protest on Saturday at Florida. @WHAS11 pic.twitter.com/w0VdgrzgqX

— Kent Spencer (@WHAS11Kent) January 11, 2021

Kentucky coach John Calipari defended the team taking a knee as well.

“They talked to me about it. Then they said, ‘We’d like you to kneel with us,’ which I did,” the coach said. “I held my heart, but I did kneel with them because I support the guys. But it wasn’t about military. Six of these players come from military families. … This wasn’t about the military.”

Related: U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Kneel During National Anthem, Wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ Uniforms

Calipari Changes His Tune

After three days of backlash, however, Calipari admitted that they may have made a mistake.

“These kids, they’re good kids,” Calipari said Tuesday after his team lost 85-65 to Alabama. “They have good hearts. This political time, probably not a real good time to do it.”

Frankly, there is no “good time” to kneel during the national anthem. We’re glad this team is getting the backlash they deserve for disrespecting the American flag and those who have fought and died for it.