NBA’s Jonathan Isaac Stands For National Anthem And Doesn’t Wear Black Lives Matter Shirt
Jonathan Isaac has become the first NBA star not to kneel during the national anthem since the league restarted on Thursday.
The Orlando Magic forward – who is an ordained minister – also chose not to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt during the anthem, in contrast to his teammates and opponents who all took the knee while wearing the shirts.
Since the league restarted, players, coaches and referees alike have been taking the knee to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement, with the gesture being supported by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The take-a-knee action was inspired by American football star Colin Kaepernick when he staged a kneeling protest in 2016 by refusing to stand during the national anthem to draw attention to racial inequality.
Kaepernick later became a free agent when the San Francisco 49ers told him they would be releasing him, with media speculation at the time suggesting the quarterback’s protest was one of the primary reasons behind his ousting.
However, since then taking the knee has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement and many players across a variety of different sports have followed Kaepernick’s lead – particularly amid worldwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
According to Silver, players in the NBA will now be able to kneel during the anthem without consequence – despite a league rule requiring them to stand – something every player bar Isaac has so far done, TMZ reports.
Ahead of the Magic’s 128-118 victory over the Brooklyn Nets yesterday, July 31, Isaac could be seen standing in his white jersey while his teammates knelt around him wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
The NBA star later explained his decision by saying that kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt ‘don’t go hand in hand in supporting Black Lives Matter’, adding that ‘Black lives are supported through the Gospel’.
After being asked whether he believes Black lives matter, Isaac said, as per Sky News:
Absolutely I believe Black lives matter. A lot went into my decision. Kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don’t go hand in hand in supporting Black lives.
I do believe that Black lives matter, I just felt like it was a decision I had to make, and I didn’t feel like putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand in hand with supporting Black lives.
I don’t think that kneeling or putting on a T-shirt for me, personally, is the answer. For me, Black lives are supported through the Gospel, all lives are supported through the Gospel.
The player’s coach, Steve Clifford, supported his decision, which he described as ‘personal’, adding: ‘We’re all supporting each other in this, and if guys are not comfortable kneeling and they want to stand, nobody has a problem with that.’
Clifford went on to say that Isaac’s teammates and the NBA support him too, saying it’s all ‘part of living in our country’.
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