Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac says he stood for the national anthem at the NBC restart because ‘kneeling doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives’
- Jonathan Isaac on Friday stood for the national anthem and wore his own vest
- He was the first player to decide not to kneel or wear a Black Lives Matter shirt
- Isaac explained his decision in the press conference after the game
- He said wearing BLM shirt ‘doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives’
Bronx-born Isaac, 22, stood for the national anthem before Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets – the second night of games since the league restarted at Disney World on Thursday night.
‘I also believe that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives.’
Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood for the national anthem before Friday’s game
In the press conference after the game, Isaac explained his decision not to kneel
Pressed on why he chose to stand, he replied: ‘I 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.’
He said his strong faith guided his decision.
‘For me, my life is supported through the gospel of Jesus Christ. All lives are supported through the gospel,’ he said.
‘Everyone is made in the image of God and we all share in His glory.
‘Each and every one of us, each and every day, do things we shouldn’t. We say things we shouldn’t say. We hate and dislike people we shouldn’t hate and dislike.
‘And sometimes we get to the point where we point fingers about whose evil is worse, and sometimes it comes down to simply whose evil is more visible.’
Isaac said that he felt faith was a way to help ‘get past color, all the things in our world that are messed up.’
‘That, at the end of the day, will help us see our mistakes in a different light,’ he said.
‘It 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 or men and women.’
As was the case before Thursday’s games, players, coaches, and referees all took a knee and locked arms ahead of Friday’s game.
Isaac said that he was praying during the anthem.
Jonathan Isaac (1) stands as others kneel before the start of a game against the Brooklyn Nets
The DeVos family, which owns the Magic, released a statement in support of the protest during Friday’s game.
‘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,’ read the statement.
‘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 DeVos family includes US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who is married to Richard DeVos Jr. — the son and namesake of the Amway co-founder.
On Thursday, former NBA star-turned-TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley said he would support anyone who chose not to kneel during the anthem.
‘I’m glad these guys are unified,’ he said after players protested on Thursday.
‘If people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear. I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified.’
Every person present at HP Fieldhouse on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando knelt during the national anthem before the first games of the NBA’s restarted season on Thursday night.
All players, coaches and staff members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, along with all officials, wore shirts reading ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER,’ which was also printed on the court. Many locked arms with those next to them, while some players raised fists in the air.
LeBron James points to the sky after kneeling in protest of racism during the anthem
The players and coaches on the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers also knelt prior to Thursday night’s later game at The Arena on the Wide World of Sports campus.
The anthem before the Jazz-Pelicans game was performed virtually by Louisiana native Jon Batiste, who played a rendition with a mix of piano and guitar.
Before the anthem, the TNT broadcast aired an introductory segment narrated by rapper Meek Mill, promoting social justice initiatives and the BLM movement, followed by a segment with several NBA players speaking on the subject.
Players displayed a variety of social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, including ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Say Their Names’ and ‘I Can’t Breathe.’
The game was the first in four-plus months since the regular season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Again at the Lakers-Clippers game, various players had social justice messages on the backs of their uniforms. Lakers star LeBron James passed on the option and went with his last name.
The Compton Kidz Club sang the national anthem through a video feed before the Clippers faced the Lakers.