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'That's their right': Coach K weighs in on national anthem protests

<p>Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski supported the right of athletes to protest during the national anthem but explained why he and his Team USA players did not.</p>

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski supported the right of athletes to protest during the national anthem but explained why he and his Team USA players did not.

As part of a Tuesday television tour in which he also appeared on CNBC to discuss his new startup PowerForward, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski appeared on "Bloomberg Markets" Tuesday evening. The five-time national champion said he agreed with the recent statement issued by Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics, regarding House Bill 2, talked about the leadership development startup and spoke publicly about the national anthem protests sweeping across the country. 

The full interview can be viewed here, with Krzyzewski's thoughts on the protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others below.

Krzyzewski on the rights of Kaepernick and others to protest:

I'm glad we're in a country that allows us to protest. That's not alive and well all over the world, so we should be forever grateful for that. Certainly, Colin and whoever has the right to do that. 

For me, I'll stand for the national anthem. I'm in the military, I graduated from West Point. I know that our Olympic team stood with their hands on their hearts, but a big part of that is we have a great relationship with the military. We kind of in this Olympics supported TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, where kids and family members who lost a brother or a husband, they were with us every step of the way. It was our way of saying, 'We're with you,' so that was a statement. 

We used the anthem for that type of statement, and God bless our country that we're able to make those statements. 

Krzyzewski on taking his players' wishes into account regarding the national anthem at Duke and with the national team:

We'll actually have that meeting with our own team because we'll stand for the national anthem every time we play, and figure out what they feel about it and as a group, talk about it. 

I would hope that we would stand and have our hands over our hearts, but if somebody felt differently, then they have the right to do that. We never had that issue with the U.S. team, and part of that is you have Wounded Warriors come and speak to help learn about selfless service, you're probably going to stand with your hand over your heart because you know that person is watching you and that's your way of saying thanks. 

It's an individual decision, and God bless our country for allowing us to make individual decisions like that.

Krzyzewski on any potential differences in protests across different sports:

We have a common factor here, it's all human beings, so I would rather not put it sport by sport. I do know that the percentage of African-Americans in our sport is probably the greatest of all. Whether it's in response to that specific issue, all of those people have the chance to react to any issue in that way. 

This is my personal thing and I'm not judging anybody, the one time we as a country can show solidarity is with our anthem. Some would say you're nationalistic or patriotic. I just like that at one time, no matter what our differences are, we do stand under one flag together. Let's solve the issues. That's maybe me being idealistic, but I'm not opposed to people who are using it to protest. That's their right. 


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