Olivier Sarr and UK teammates knew kneeling during national anthem would have consequences

Olivier Sarr (Vicky Graff Photo)

Olivier Sarr and his Kentucky teammates knew not everyone would approve of what they did when they kneeled during the national anthem before Saturday’s win at Florida.

“We understood that our gesture would have consequences,” Sarr said Monday. “We just want people to understand. We know some are mad and pissed. It was just a peaceful way to protest. Just raise awareness. That is it.”

What exactly were they protesting against?

“I think our actions speak for itself,” Sarr, a native of France, said. “What happened in the past few days, past few weeks, even during quarantine. We were just showing support and raising awareness of things that happened lately.”

Sarr said the players were coming for a “place of understanding and peace” they hope others understand. Many have not based on the social media criticism the players and coaches, who also knelt, have received. Some UK fans have said they will not watch this team play again. But there has also been plenty of support from other UK fans.

Sarr said the team didn’t talk about what the reaction might be like.

“Obviously we knew some people would react a certain way. You do something and some are pleased and some aren’t,” the UK senior said.

He said the team made the decision and “everybody” was okay with it and wanted to participate.

“Unfortunately some are not happy with it,” Sarr said. “We just want the best for everyone and want peace.”

He thought it sent a “big message” that every player participated along with the UK coaches.

“We are a unit and that’s what we want our country to be,” Sarr said. “I think what was really powerful was Coach (John Calipari) doing it with us. He took to heart what we said and did it with us for the cause. That shows we are all together. Some might disagree but we (minorities) just want to be treated equal . That’s all we want out of it.”

I asked Sarr if this was something UK might do again when the Cats host Alabama Tuesday night or in other future games.

“We will see what we do for other games,” he said. “Whether we do it once or twice, our mind and focus is on that and these issues and gestures at all times.”

Sarr was told about some fans questioning Calipari’s leadership and not being man enough to stop the players from protesting.

“I don’t care about outside opinions of other people. We are all in this as a team together. We all have an opinion. I am just proud Coach stood with us,” Sarr said.

40 thoughts on “Olivier Sarr and UK teammates knew kneeling during national anthem would have consequences

  1. David Brewer

    Good luck UK? I am an Alumni, supporter and fan of all Uk sports programs. Unfortunately will never be again, especially basketball. I hope Stoops stands against this kind of protest. Never disrespect the American flag or this country’s national anthem, which pu$$y Calipari and this team decided to do. Coach Cal, you need to go to the NBA. I will never buy my season tickets again. Done with all this BS.

    Reply
  2. Ann

    Any chance any of you that are clutching your pearls and throwing yourself on the floor kicking and screaming like a five year old in the cereal aisle at Kroger got season tickets?? My uncle, retired USMC Korea and Vietnam War veteran would love those tickets!! I’ve got a bunch of former military family and friends who are UK fans and would love to see the team play so please let me know since you won’t need them! It’s interesting that not a single one has a problem with these kids kneeling…that’s just one of the reasons they say they fought for. But they have a major problem with people who look like us (white) storming the US Capitol…they’re still waiting to hear the outrage over that. Where is the outrage?? Colin was told by a Navy Seal that kneeling is not disrespectful…I’m not going to argue with a Seal on that issue. Our anthem is not "national"…look at when it was written. Yep, back when POC were sold…they were property…they still are not equal because of people who look like me (white). That song is for white folks only. It’s amazing how many holler about disrespecting the flag at a game but don’t even know when they or others violate the flag code every single day. Where’s your outrage for that?? I didn’t think hypocrisy could be taken to a whole new level until some kids quietly objected to everything wrong in this country….congrats. Y’all have taken it to a new level. I am aware that not every veteran agrees with the veterans in my family and my friends and I respect your right to disagree…you signed up and you should be heard on this. I completely respect any veterans opinions on recent events but everyone else needs to shut up, educate yourselves and only then share your opinion…please try not to show your white privilege butt again. Until people in this country are outraged by what happened Wednesday and will continue to happen if the white supremacist butts get their way, kids supported by their coaches really should be pushed down on your to-do list….since you’re "patriots" your time should be taken up by planning on how to protect our state Capitol and DC. Y’all make me embarrassed to be white.

    Reply
    • LarryPup

      Ann, not everybody who wore the uniform respects the flag and honors the colors for what it represents, but most of us do, and always will. We would never take a knee, nor respect anyone who did. Oswald wore the uniform. I would not want to go into battle with a kid who don’t respect the flag of his country or place his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is played. I will say this, disrespect the flag of the United States while in a uniform, on a parade ground, or on a military base and see what happens to you. Let’s look at a little history too. The party that Trump leads now freed the slaves, not Biden’s party. They were the party of the Klu Klux clan. Did you ever hear of Robert Byrd, or George Wallace? Did you ever hear of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation? What about all the left wing radical elements that burned cities, destroyed businesses, killed cops, and others. Why they even took over entire cities this past summer. Where was all the outrage then by some of you liberals who are so outraged by the unrest now. It was the radical Maxine Waters that first encouraged violence after the 2016 election. My goodness, they have her on video. Yeah I’m white too, and most of my folk are not privileged as you spout off about. Neither are we racist either. We just believe a man, black of white, deserves a chance to make an honest living. If you don’t work then you don’t eat. That is Bible by the way. I have ancestors that fought for the Union girl and can prove that. They all worked hard for what they had, and respected the Constitution of the United States, the rule of law, and the American flag. What happened at the Capitol on January 6 was hard to watch, I agree, but so was the theft of an American Presidential election where the incumbent got more votes than any President in history, while the challenger couldn’t put a sentence together, did no real campaigning, then sat back and watched the big steal happening for him in the middle of the night. Finally, there are things that are much more important than UK basketball. If Biden is truly seated on Jan 20 drastic changes are coming to America. You just watch. It will be full blown Communism quicker than you think if it’s not stopped. Then we all lose our freedoms many a man has died for.

      Reply
  3. Dennis Kelley

    As a former Army officer and married to a U.K. grad who lives & dies with ALL the teams. She and I were disgusted with the basketball team and THE ENTIRE COACHING STAFF kneeling for their national anthem. Total lack of respect for the people who gave their lives allowing them to get a free college education for playing a game. Long time fans & contributed to the sports programs for over 35 years, but we are done doing both. I know they could care less but our leaving the basketball program will not be the only fans to do so..

    Reply
    • Larry Vaught Post author

      Thank you Dennis for what you did and sorry your love affair with the CAts might be ending. Hopefully maybe you can find another UK team to support and eventually get back to where you can watch the basketball Cats. Hopefully folks like you will get a chance to maybe meet with the team and explain your view to help players understand the other side of the issue as well

      Reply
  4. Chris K

    Thought college basketball was the last of the non-political institutions. I think one should clearly define what they are protesting and not do it on someone else’s dime. Go out and protest or whatever in the streets of Lexington. I started listening to Cawood Ledford 45 years ago with Dad, and have loved the Cats since the other day. Very disappointed. Cal finally lost me!

    Reply
  5. B Baker

    As soon as I heard what our players did Sat. I was outraged. I do not understand the Unity crap. They could show unity by playing as a team and they wouldn’t have lost 6 straight games. Talk about not being treated equal, what do you mean, you are getting a free education. Lets see when you leave UK and go pro how many of these players take their money and put it back into their community. I have watched UK BB with my dad when I was very young and have been watching it for over 50 years but I will not watch a single UK BB game the rest of this year for sure. I am so embarrassed to say I am a UK fan. I have never fault in a war or had a family member but I do know what the American flags stand for. And it is not for ball players making more money than most Americans and than complaining. Grow up!

    Reply
  6. Jim

    David I am sorry you lost your father in that war. I have a question for you. Are you more outraged because people are kneeling for real racial injustice or the fact Americans are storming the U. S. capital wearing a variety of Nazi shirts, and carrying a variety of flags trying to overthrow our country that your father died defending? By the way black soldiers have have fought and died beside white soldiers in all the wars. Some of these kids may have family members who lost their lives for this country. There is no wrong time to stand up or kneel for what is right.

    Reply
    • LarryPup

      Hey Jim, real patriots stormed the U. S, Capital because the democrat Socialist party stole the 2020 Presidential election from 75 million American Trump voters. If you don’t understand that you are watching to much liberal news media. If they had thrown out all the dead people that voted for Joe, and the big dump in the middle of the night on 11/3/20 of illegal mail in votes, Trump wins hands down. The election was rigged. That is why frustrated patriots have had enough of the BS that started in 2016, and had continued against Trump for 4 long years. State election laws were broken too. No way Joe Biden won that election fair and square. You know it and the world knows it. Biden never campaigned for it, and when he did, he couldn’t draw 100 people.

      As for the flag, if you love this country you will honor it no matter if you are black or white. You will stand for the national anthem too. You liberals just wait until Biden and company take over, if that does indeed take place on 1/20/21. You won’t recognize this country in four years. I know this post will get taken down, but Calipari and his team made this political when they chose to take a knee for the flag of the United Stares of America in a time when there is so much division. I am through with UK unless Barnhart fires Calipari for allowing that nonsense to take place with a bunch of coddled and spoiled athletes under his charge. They look like they are doing pretty well for themselves to me.

      Reply
      • Jim

        If you would vote for Trump, you would vote for Satan himself. The Republican party has been exposed for who they really are. All I can say pup is you are a victim of the Jim Jones effect. The most secure election ever his own man said. He lost by 7.5 million votes. The Republican party wants to be the Authoritarian party. Trump wants to be like Kim. Stay in power until he dies and then let junior take over. Even McConnell says it’s bullshit. Your president will be going to prison along with his GOP cronies. It’s troubling to think there are
        74 million traitors in this country. Biden will be president on 1/20/21. Make sure to watch the inauguration.

        Reply
        • LarryPup

          Get ready for Socialism Jim. You are in for a real shock when the China Joe, Schumer, Harris, Palosi, AOC, and the other American haters take full control. Under Trump our economy soared, people went back to work, and new job were created. Everybody’s 401 accounts were soaring, and the stock market set records. He brought our troops home from endless wars, and brought peace to the middle East. Moved the Capital of Israel to Jerusalem. He built a border wall that virtually stopped illegal immigration, and encouraged all to respect our country’s flag. Like I said, if you think Biden won that election fair and square you are dumber than a country rock. Didn’t hear much out of the people like you about bringing law and order to our country when their types were burning American cities, destroying American businesses, and killing cops all summer. Or how about this, taking over entire towns like Milwaukee, Seattle, Portland, etc. It’s coming Jim. Liberals like you have no clue what this bunch will do to the America I grew up in and fought for. You can kiss my A$$ hoss.

          Reply
          • Jim

            First of all pup the economy was on the rise from Obama when Trump took office. He rode his coattail and took credit like he always does. Obama had to clean up a financial crisis in his first term left by Bush. Bailing out rich people again. Trump will leave office with 3 million less job’s than when he entered. He left the Kirds to die from Turkish attacks after thousands had died fighting terrorism on our behalf after 9/11. Pulled troops back to supposedly protect a oil field that hadn’t pumped oil in years. Not out of the country. Peace in the middle east, that’s a stupid comment. Where are the companies that he said would move back to the U.S. Not one. In fact more have left. In his 4 years he has built 47 miles of NEW border wall and replaced 400 miles of old wall at a tune of 15 billion of tax payer money. Mexico will pay for the wall. What a joke. It won’t keep anyone out. The only thing he has really done is give corporations and filthy rich people tax cuts. Also he has rolled back regulations so much I can crap in your drinking water and you can’t do anything about it. He started a trade war that has done nothing but put hundreds of farms out of business. He has killed thousands of Americans because he chose to ignore a global pandemic. He knew it was deadly and lied about it with every breath. Got a couple cases will be gone in no time he said. Did you drink some bleach? Whats up with not wanting to wear a mask? I thought the Republican party was supposed to be the Christian party. Shouldn’t you want to save your neighbors lives. You all are Jerry Fallowell jr. Christians. He tried every way possible to get rid of the ACA. He couldn’t do it. Not even with a stacked supreme court. I have heard him say atleast 50 times we are 2 weeks away from announcing our new health care plan. 4 yrs. later where is it at? Now he and you and all his followers are crying like 5 year olds who lost their first game of candy land. Over 60 judges said the election was fare. 90% were Republican appointed and half were appointed by Trump. This country didn’t need to be made great again. It was already great. He has done nothing but disgrace our country and flag. Ran it into the ground. Our allies and enemies think of us as divided and weak. The new laughing stock of the world. Hundreds of our own Admirals and Generals have publicly said he is the worst commander and chief this country has ever seen. It will take many yrs to build back what Trump destroyed in the blink of an eye. I won’t kiss yours, but you can suck mine.

          • LarryPup

            75 million Americans disagree with you Jim, and we’ll see what the American economy looks like after 4 years of Biden and the Socialists’ destroy it. Biden couldn’t win the 2020 election honestly so they stuffed the ballot boxes in the middle of the night. Everybody knows that. The courts never gave the Trump team a chance to present the evidence which is overwhelming. State election laws were broken by the Democrat controlled states, it’s true. I guess you are all for the New Green Deal, eliminating 2nd Amendment rights, open borders, higher taxes, defunding our military, and police departments , eliminating ICE, Medicare for all, sanctuary cities, burning down small businesses by Antifa, and others who practice anarchy in democrat controlled cities. Nice future, right Jim? That is your man Biden’s party Jim. By the way, Trump carried the state of Kentucky twice, won 16 electoral votes. This is Trump country knuckle head. We support the flag of the USA, in other words we stand for the flag and the national anthem. Trump also won the 2020 race too. The Deep State is alive and well shit head. Trump suffered through 4 years of fake investigations, no Russian Collusion by the way after millions of tax payer money was spent trying to prove it. That would be the "Clinton Machine" in bed with Russia. The Steel Dossier, remember that. Why they even have Obama on tape bellying up to Putin and making promises. Trump also survived a fake impeachment. Now you dumb ass democrats want to impeach him again so you won’t have to face a real American President in2024 who you can’t beat in an honest election. Oh, I forgot the FISA abuse his Administration had to deal with, and the false charges levied against General Flynn was so lame. The corruption in the FBI led by Jim Comey. Wake up man before America is run by Red China. It may already be with China Joe in power.

          • Jim

            I see you are a conspiracy theorist. That also means you are a small minded, uneducated, inbred idiot.

  7. Lonnie

    It is easy to take an action and say that is not what I meant, I meant something else. You can throw a rock and break someone’s window but say I didn’t mean to break that window. The window is broken no matter your best excuse.
    When the military soldier takes an oath he or she places their life out front. The military soldier’s life is interwoven with the American Flag and the National Anthem so tight that you can not separate the three. When a person takes a knee during the playing of the National Anthem it disgraces the Flag, the song and most of all the American Soldier. You can not separate the three no matter what your intent is. Disrespecting the millions of soldiers, the Flag and National Anthem may make some kind of statement but what it does most of all is divide.

    Reply
  8. Joy Greenfield

    This all began with the NFL and the player who did it first, no longer plays for the NFL. These young men are just that……YOUNG. They want to stand up for others and for themselves since quite a few of them have been discriminated against. I’ve been a UK fan all my life, but I’m not going to let this change my mind about supporting my team. I have an associates degree from a UK supported community college. I have many uncles who served in most of the armed forces (including a Marine on D-Day). My father has early onset dementia, plus Covid has rocked his world. UK games (football and basketball) are just about the highlight of his day. If I were to stop supporting the team, I don’t know what that would do to him.

    Reply
    • Larry Vaught Post author

      Thanks Joy for being willing to share that. My mom is the same way. She did not understand the protests but would never think of not watching the Cats — except when they get behind and she gets nervous and changes the station.

      Reply
  9. S Holloman

    I don’t agree with taking a knee during the National Anthem. It’s disgusting. Instead of taking pride and being thankful for our service members 🙏 these kids chose to "protest". I wish all those who are protesting in the USA would leave this country.

    Reply
  10. Doug Patterson

    Sarr is from France? Does he need a history lesson? Does D day mean ANYTHING to him? The flag he is disrespecting saved his country and many more. You say by doing this you want to unite the country, you are doing the EXACT oppisite…..you are dividing the country even more than it already is. I am lifelong UK fan, but will not watch or support anymore disrespect of our great country! As for coach not being a stronger leader, he’s just afraid that next year recruits are watching.

    Reply
    • Ettyboj

      This action was showing more respect for the flag than the seditionists that were desecrating the flag at the capital insurrection.

      Reply
      • Larry Vaught Post author

        That is a view many have as well. I just hope we can all understand how others feel even when we disagree

        Reply
    • Larry Vaught Post author

      HOpe you can find a way to become a fan again Doug. Know what the Cats mean to you. I have proof of that at my house still

      Reply
  11. S Duncan

    My entire family went to UK! I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I will never support this team and will not give one dime to the University! Oliver you might want to spend a little time reading your history books. Considering that flag saved the country you call home from getting wiped off the map. I suggest next time you decide to kneel you pray and thank God you live in a free country! Coach Cal. I here the NBA is looking for people please take a look you might be a better fit.

    Reply
  12. Ray Burdine

    I’ve been a UK basketball fan for 45 years,but until Coach John Calipari is gone from UK I will not watch any more UK basketball .kneeling during the national anthem is wrong!

    Reply
  13. nostalgic33

    If these kids want to put their political views ahead of their obligation to the university, then let them pay their way here or go somewhere else. When you accept a scholarship, there are strings that come with that. Calipari has set a bad example with his players first philosophy. We have the tail wagging the dog and Calipari sees nothing wrong with that.

    We need to get rid of Calipari and his OAD recruiting and bring in a coach who is committed to the university first and foremost. A coach who makes sure these kids go to class and keep their grades up so they will have a degree if basketball is not in the cards after their time here. A coach who understands that KY basketball is about winning SEC season titles as well as the conference tournament title. A coach who understands that Final Four appearances are expected every 2 – 3 years and a national title is expected every 5 – 6 years. Billy Donovan could be that kind of coach, so could Brad Stephens.

    Reply
  14. Rich Hornbeak

    I am the class of 1979 and a US Air Force retiree. Your kneeling during the National Anthem disgusted me. I used to love watching my Cats play basketball. You made it intolerable. The team needs to be completely replaced by people that love this country.

    Reply
  15. Tuckasee

    Some think it’s appropriate to protest during the National anthem and some do not. I don’t think it’s right, but have no trouble understanding some do.

    Reply
  16. David Gilkey

    I think you are very uninformed about your actions not coach Cal anytime ANYONE who shows disrespect for the flag that so many have died for I can and never will support. Yes I am one of those that grew up without a father because he lost his life trying to save France along with other European countries from true Nazi rule. Just educational facts.
    Previous Die Hard Blue Fan.

    Reply
  17. Dennis C. Friel

    Love this team when a lot of fans did not, I do bleed BLUE!
    I do understand these young men wanting to protest people of color not treated the same as other’s
    What I do not appreciate is the lack of respect for the FLAG / ANTHEM!
    I fully support their right to protest, I just do not think that is a acceptable venue to do so.

    Reply

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>