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NBA opens with anthem protests

NFL cornerback Marcus Peters has raised his fist during a performance of the US national anthem.
Anthem protests began during the NFL pre-season
Photo Source: AP

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Toronto Raptors players locked arms during the Canadian and US national anthems on Saturday, as protests over racial inequality spread to the NBA.

The Raptors lined up on court with their arms locked, as the NBA pre-season opened in Vancouver with Toronto hosting the Golden State Warriors.

The gesture added to protests that began during the NFL pre-season when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stayed seated during the national anthem.

The protest by the Raptors, the NBA's only Canada-based franchise, was the first at a sporting event where both the American and Canadian anthems are played before the start of a game which Toronto won 97-93.

Protesting players have been seen as allies of the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew in response to high-profile police killings of unarmed African-Americans across the United States in the past two years.

The protests have provoked anger among some fans, who see them as a sign of disrespect for the US flag and the military.

Raptors player DeMar DeRozan, who helped the United States to a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, said this week that a close friend had been murdered when he was shot 17 times by police and that the team was considering a protest.

In the other NBA pre-season game, the New Orleans Pelicans topped the visiting Dallas Mavericks 116-102.

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