Miami Heat and Boston Celtics players took a knee during the national anthem prior to tip-off Wednesday ... with both teams releasing a powerful message following the Jacob Blake decision and unrest in D.C.
The Celtics reportedly held a players-only meeting during warmups ... presumably to figure out how to address the current status of the country and whether the game would take place.
The result -- a joint statement from both teams explaining their decision to play.
"2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed," the players said in a statement. "We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation's capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on."
"The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protesters who acted illegally just shows how much work we have to do."
Of course, the players are referring to the Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol just hours ago ... breaking through barriers and jumping over walls to enter the building.
Miami center Meyers Leonard was the only Heat player to stand for the anthem (as he did throughout the 2020 season restart in Orlando) ... while every Celtics player elected to take a knee.
The statement continued ... "We have decided to play tonight’s game to try and bring joy into people's lives."
"But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America."