The Philadelphia 76ers have apologized for their decision to stop singer Sevyn Streeter from performing the national anthem at Wednesday’s home opener while wearing a “We Matter” jersey.
"We are sorry that this happened," the 76ers said in a Friday statement. "After receiving feedback from our players, basketball operations staff and ownership group, we believe that the wrong decision was made, and Sevyn should have been welcomed to sing. We apologize to her, and in an effort to move the conversation forward, we have reached out to offer her an opportunity to return and perform on a game of her choice. We are waiting to hear back."
Streeter was expected to sing the national anthem before the 76ers' season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but was stopped by team officials just before the performance. A member of the 76ers' dance crew performed the anthem instead.
Was suppose to sing the anthem at @sixers & @okcthunder game but mins b4 @sixers said I couldn't because I was wearing a "We Matter" jersey pic.twitter.com/wjoJN3rq0r— Sevyn (@sevyn) October 27, 2016
"I'd say two minutes before we were about to walk out ... the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game," the R&B singer told the Associated Press. "I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe."
On Wednesday, the 76ers responded with a statement that didn't clarify what happened.
"The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change," that statement read. "We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community."
Vice President of Content & Integrated Marketing Jason Wiley made the decision to cancel Streeter’s appearance, according to John Gonzalez. The organization “worried” that the jersey was not going to be the only part of the protest, Gonzalez reports.
The decision to prevent Streeter from performing was panned by the public and also had repercussions in the locker room. Wiley spoke to the players for 40 minutes to explain the situation, according to CSN Philly’s Jessica Camerato. Despite that conversation, the members of the team are considering taking action in the future.
WE MATTER @JeramiGrant @Sixers @MiamiHEAT pic.twitter.com/2jqCnbke87— Justise Winslow (@IAmJustise) October 28, 2016
“Collectively, we talked about it, everybody expressed their emotions about it,” forward Robert Covington told CSNPhilly. “We know that we want to take steps about it. We just don’t know exactly what steps we want to take. We talked about a lot of different things. That’s one thing that, as a team, we’re very aware of now that the whole incident’s happened. It’s not something we’re going to look over. It’s just a matter of time.”
The 76ers’ next game will come on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks at 12:30 p.m. ET.