Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac chose not to join his teammates in protest Friday. While the rest of the Magic got down on one knee during the national anthem, Isaac chose to stand.
Isaac, 22, was the only player to do so. Isaac was also the lone player on the court who didn’t wear a Black Lives Matter shirt. Instead, he wore his Magic jersey and warmup pants during the anthem.
With the move, Isaac becomes the first NBA player to stand during the national anthem since the restart. During Thursday’s game, every coach and player on the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz took a knee in protest of racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. Following Thursday’s game, LeBron James said he hopes NBA players made former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick proud.
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Why did Jonathan Isaac stand during the national anthem?
Isaac spoke about his decision after the game, saying he believes Black Lives Matter, but that kneeling and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt doesn’t “go hand in hand” with supporting Black lives.
Isaac began his answer by stating:
“Absolutely. I believe that Black Lives Matter. A lot went into my decision. And part of it is, first off, is my thought that kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt don’t go hand in hand with supporting Black lives. So I felt like, just me personally, what it is that I believe is standing on the stance that: I do believe that Black Lives Matter, but I just felt like it was a decision that I had to make and I didn’t feel like putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand in hand in supporting Black lives, or that it made me support Black lives or not.”
He then spoke about his faith, saying he believes the answer to getting past all the evils of our society — including racism — is “the gospel.”
When asked to explain how kneeling correlates with his religion, Isaac said he didn’t think “kneeling or putting on a t-shirt, for me personally, is the answer. For me, Black lives are supported through the gospel.”
Isaac echoed that sentiment in an interview with Click Orlando in June. In that interview, Isaac addressed George Floyd’s murder, racism in the United States and police brutality, saying he believes the “answer is Jesus.” Isaac is an ordained minister.
Magic issue statement supporting protest
Following the national anthem demonstration, the Magic released a statement supporting Magic players for kneeling in protest.
A statement from the DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic following the demonstration during the national anthem prior to tonight’s NBA restart game. pic.twitter.com/pauXmG62cD
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) July 31, 2020
The team said it was proud of its players, and stressed that the protests are not about the military, but about “bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police.”
What will happen to Jonathan Isaac following his decision to stand?
The NBA has a rule stating kneeling is not allowed during the national anthem. Isaac followed that rule. NBA commissioner Adam Silver, however, said Thursday he would not punish players for kneeling during the anthem. Other players have yet to react to Isaac’s decision to stand.
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