When the Golden State Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers to sweep their Western Conference Finals series and earn their fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals, a surprise face was there to greet Stephen Curry after the game -- exiled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Following the game, as shown on Twitter by ESPN, Kaepernick approached Curry, who was holding his son Canon, and embraced him. Kaepernick, wearing a shirt with pictures of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, was also photographed with Warriors coach Steve Kerr and other players on the team.
Curry and Kaepernick both played in the Bay Area for several years, and Curry, while not traditionally as outspoken about political matters as some other NBA players, defended his fellow athlete in a 2016 interview.
"I love that there's freedom of speech and he can stand for what he believes in," Curry said of Kaepernick at a time when the quarterback's protests had recently begun, per NBC Sports Bay Area. "There's going to be people that disagree with him, there's going to be people that agree with him, which is what I think our country stands for, which hopefully will drive the conversation to bettering the equal rights and treatment of African-Americans and people of color."
Kaepernick, in a protest of police brutality and racial inequality, began skipping the national anthem prior to games during the NFL preseason in 2016, eventually modifying the protest to kneeling during the anthem. Following that season, the quarterback left the San Francisco 49ers and has not signed with an NFL team since. The anthem protest was soon joined by other players, which led to President Donald Trump denouncing the protesting players as "sons of b*tches" during the 2017 NFL season.The quarterback filed a grievance with the NFL after he wasn't signed, alleging collusion among the owners, and the parties reached a confidential settlement earlier this year, which earned him less than $10 million, per The Inquisitr.Kaepernick also began appearing in a Nike advertising campaign last fall at the start of the NFL season, which used the slogan "believe in something even if it costs you everything." Curry endorses Under Armour.
The Warriors beat the Blazers 119-117 in overtime on Monday night, per ESPN.com, despite being without the injured Kevin Durant for the entire series. In winning the series against Portland, they became the first team since the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and '60s to reach the NBA Finals five years in a row. The Warriors will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks in this year's NBA Finals.