Orlando Magic basketballer, Jonathan Isaac became the first NBA player to stand during the National Anthem as the NBA league resumed play after a 20-week hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday night.
Isaac, who is Black, and 22 years of age, remained standing as players and coaches from both teams, as well as referees, took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.
He was also the only player seen not wearing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt.
The Black Lives matter protests began in response to police brutality and racism ongoing in the US and the protest has noe spread all over the world with sports teams wearing the BLM logo and kneeling down during the national anthem at games.
After the game, which Orlando Magic won, Isaac was questioned as to why he took the decision to not join his fellow teammates to kneel.
According to him, the decision to kneel isn’t biblical. He explained his reasoning in response to a question from Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks:
“Absolutely I believe that Black lives matter,” Isaac said after the game. “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,” Isaac said.
“We all fall short of God’s glory, and at the end of the day, whoever will humble themselves and seek God and repent their sins, then we could see our mistakes and people’s mistakes and people’s evil in a different light, and that it would help bring us closer together and get past skin color, get past anything that’s on the surface that doesn’t really deal with the hearts of men and women.”
Social media observers had their say regarding his situation.
“I’m very curious about — and will be patient for — Jonathan Isaac’s explanation here,” tweeted basketball writer Dane Moore.
“Standing for the anthem is one thing… But seeming to be intentional about *not* wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt…. I dunno, man…”
“Drag me I don’t care..” said another Twitter user. “What Jonathan Isaac did was his right to do. I lost no respect for him and still respect him for who he is. If a player stands or kneels, I could care less.”
The owners of the Magic, the DeVos family on Friday night released a statement in support of the players pre-game protest on Friday.
“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 said.
It added, “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. 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.”
“We’re confident the entire Magic family has immense respect for these entities and individuals,” the statement said. “This is about coming together to end racism once and for all. We are committed to walking alongside our players — today and in the many days ahead — in the pursuit of lasting and impactful change.”