Kobe Bryant says he would protest during national anthem if he were still playing

Now-retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant said Sunday that if he were still playing basketball, he would follow in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps and take a knee during the national anthem.

Bryant, speaking to The Undefeated’s Jemele Hill, said he would have protested despite the backlash.

“Yeah, I would have participated in it, for sure," Bryant said. “I'm sure I would have gotten some flak for it. That's fine. I think that Colin's message was a very simple one. It was police brutality needs to stop. We need to take a look at that.”

Bryant said the wave of unpopularity that hit the NFL over the protests would not occur in the NBA.

FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif. Despite their vastly divergent methods, Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James helped set a stake in the ground, declaring to athletes across all sports that their platforms could be used for more than fun and games in the 21st century. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

“From my experience in the locker room, it doesn't seem like any of the players that I played with certainly would have had an issue with that," he said. “I think we understand this is a free country. I think we have the right to peaceful protest.”

Bryant said that’s what the American flag stands for, “the ability to voice your opinion.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said prior to the start of the 2017-18 season that he expected players to stand for the national anthem

NBA rules require players to stand for the anthem. Silver said the playing of the national anthem has always been a time for respect and reflection — even in a league where 25 percent of the players are not American — and recalled that many teams locked arms last season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.