Fever forward explains anthem gesture in message to fans

Marissa Coleman

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A member of the Indiana Fever wrote a response Thursday to criticism over the team's decision to kneel during the national anthem during Wednesday's WNBA playoff game.

Marissa Coleman, a seven-year veteran who has played the last three seasons in Indiana, described her family's history of service, including her father, a retired police officer, and her brother-in-law, who went to war for the United States.

"I would never disrespect them or devalue their service," Coleman wrote. "My question is, why is it when you stand for something it is automatically assumed you're against the opposite?? It makes no sense to me."

Coleman and the rest of the Fever team took to a knee during the anthem Wednesday night to bring awareness to social and racial injustices in America. The gesture, which reflects that taken by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has drawn controversy and the Fever are no exception.

"I promise it's humanly possible to take a knee to spark conversations/bring awareness and still support our troops. I promise. You should try it," Coleman wrote.

The Fever forward goes on to write about a "healthy and informative dialogue" she and her teammates had after Wednesday's game with a woman in a restaurant, questioning if their gesture means they don't support their troops.

Coleman concluded her message by responding to those who have told her and her teammates to "just play basketball."

"Basketball is what I do, it is NOT who I am," she wrote. "Those who expect my teammates and I to simply play basketball are missing out on some phenomenal and educated women. Women who impact their communities in many ways."

Pacers Sports & Entertainment statement

"During the Indiana Fever versus Phoenix Mercury playoff game last night, the Fever players conducted a silent protest by kneeling during the singing of the National Anthem. While Pacers Sports & Entertainment believes that our players should follow WNBA protocol, which is to stand respectfully during the anthem, we also understand that they have the right to have their voices heard. We are very proud of our role in serving the community in Indianapolis and it is our hope going forward that we can collaborate with the players in a positive way, create opportunities for meaningful discussions, and contribute to a stronger, safer and more unified community."

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