Orlando Magic’s Isaac is the first NBA player not to kneel during anthem
Jonathan Isaac says his Christian faith guided him in his decision to stand as the national anthem played ahead of a game
The NBA resumed its season on Thursday and every player and coach on the four teams that took the court that day collectively took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
That changed Friday when Orlando Magic player Jonathan Isaac was the lone person standing as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played through the sound system before the team took on the Brooklyn Nets inside the NBA bubble.
Isaac, a third-year power forward for the Magic, stood as each of his teammates and coaches; Nets players and coaches; and referees kneeled during the traditional pregame fair.
In addition to standing, Isaac is also the first player not to wear a “Black Lives Matter” warm-up shirt. He was dressed in his game jersey and bowed his head as the anthem rang across the court.
The Utah Jazz faced the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers took on the Los Angeles Lakers in the first pair of sanctioned games since the regular season was halted more than four months ago. Six more games, including the Magic and Nets matchup, were played Friday.
As reported by CNN, Isaac, 22, said his reasoning for refusing to kneel and put on the “Black Lives Matter” shirt was that he didn’t believe “putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives.”
He continued by indicating that his Christian faith aided in his decision not to kneel and that the religion was the key to healing the social unrest in the nation.
“For me, Black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel,” Isaac explained. “We all have things that we do wrong, and sometimes it gets to a place that we’re pointing fingers at who’s wrong is worst or who’s wrong is seen, so I feel like the Bible tells us that we all fall short of God’s glory.
“That will help bring us closer together and get past skin color. And get past anything that’s on the surface and doesn’t really get into the hearts of men and women.”
The team owners have not addressed Isaac’s actions, but the organization made a statement addressing and supporting any players who decide to kneel.
“The DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic organization fully supports Magic players who have chosen to leverage their professional platform to send a peaceful and powerful message condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police, especially against people of color,” the statement read.
“We are proud of the positive impact our players have made and join with them in the belief that sports can bring people together — bridging divides and promoting inclusion, equality, diversity and unity,” the statement continued. “We know this is not about the military, the men and women who serve honorably to keep our communities safe for all, or those who have paid the ultimate price to provide freedom, including freedom of expression.”
The NBA resumed its 2019-2020 season on Thursday after play was suspended March 11 at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
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