Cavs, Hawks link arms during the National Anthem - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Cavs, Hawks link arms during the National Anthem

ATLANTA, GA (WOIO) -

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks took a different approach to growing discussions about racism and civil discourse in sports at their preseason game on Monday, choosing to link arms during the National Anthem in what they called a "Unity Game."

Throughout the game, which the Hawks won 99-93, videos were shown of Hawks and Cavs players discussing what unity means to them and their communities. There was also a preview of 2016 ESPY exhibit "Breaking Barriers: Sports for Change," which talks about the social responsibility of athletes. 

“Our organization has seen firsthand how a sports team, its staff and every member, can positively affect the morale of a city,” Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said. "We have a brand promise to entertain and unite the city of Atlanta and we think our Unity Game is another great step toward keeping that promise. We are thankful that the Cavaliers share similar values of inclusion and diversity and understand the importance sports can play beyond the court.”

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked national controversy after kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality. Cavs star LeBron James previously said that, while he supports Kaepernick's decision to kneel and his "peaceful" handling of the situation, he plans to stand during the National Anthem.

"That's who I am, that's what I believe," he said. 

James spoke about the need for action to end gun violence and the racial divide at the 2016 ESPYs. He also spoke further about police reform at Cavs media day, saying, "All lives do matter, its not just about black or white, it's everyone." 

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