During the Brooklyn Nets-Orlando Magic game Friday afternoon the two teams locked arms, and knelt together during the national anthem while dressed in black lives matter t-shirts.
Well that is everyone except Orlando Magic Forward Jonathan Isaac.
Isaac became the first player during the NBA restart to stand instead of kneel during the national anthem, and he also declined to wear a Black Lives Matter T-shirt that fellow players leaguewide have worn before games to draw attention to racial injustice.
Isaac, who became an ordained minister on March 1, said he prayed during the anthem. He later explained his reason to Talyor Rooks who asked the hard hitting but professional questions post game.
I asked Jonathan Isaac two questions:
You didn’t kneel during the anthem but you also didn’t wear a black lives matter shirt. Do you believe black lives matter?
Can you explain what religion has to do with kneeling for the anthem to protest against racism and police brutality? pic.twitter.com/me61FleWPY
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) July 31, 2020
“I do believe that Black lives matter,” Isaac said when asked after the game whether he believed Black lives matter. “But I just felt like it was the decision that I had to make, and I didn’t feel like putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives or that it made me support Black lives or not.
“I believe that for myself, my life has been supported through the gospel of Jesus Christ and that everyone is made in the image of God and that we fall short of God’s glory. Each and every one of us each and every day do things that we shouldn’t do. We say things that we shouldn’t say. We hate and we dislike people that we shouldn’t hate and dislike. And sometimes it gets to a point where we point fingers about whose evil is worse. And sometimes it comes down to simply whose evil is most visible. So I felt like I wanted to just take a stand. I feel like we all make mistakes, but I think that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that there’s grace for us and that Jesus came and died for our sins, and that if we all would come to an understanding of that and understand that God wants to have a relationship with us that we can get past skin color. We can get past all the things in our world that are messed up, jacked up. ”
Isaac also explained his decision to his teammates the night before during a team meeting.
“That’s a personal decision,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “We’re all supporting each other in this, and if guys are not comfortable kneeling and they want to stand, then nobody has a problem with that. I support him. His teammates support him. The organization supports him.”
Teammate Nikola Vucevic said: “As far as J.I., he had his personal reasons for deciding to stand. So if he wants to share them with you guys, I’ll leave it up to him. But of course, we respect his decision, and we know where he stands.”
Isaac’s decision was one of the most talked-about topics on social media Friday afternoon and evening. It became a nationally trending topic on twitter with approximately 20,200 tweets as of 8:45 pm.
A part of the social media posts was Lakers Forward Jarred Dudley who disagreed with Isaac’s decision.
“Every person is entitled to their own opinions but I disagree with him esp(ecially) as a Christian man myself. This movement has very little to do with religion, but more to do with equality, police brutality and social injustice for Black people. Together unified we are at our strongest!”
Isaac went understood he would be ridiculed for his decision, but used his faith as a tool to guide him.
“My purposes in it really had nothing to do with the flag,” Isaac said. “I knew it was going to be a tough decision. I knew it was going to be something that people had a lot of questions for me and question my heart and question my love and question my morality for not wearing the T-shirt or taking a knee and question who I am as a man.”
Later, Isaac added: “We’re protesting and we’re doing things to get something done, and I’m standing and not wearing the T-shirt to get something done as well: to get out of the realm of skin color and see all the things that we all do each and every day that aren’t right and come to an understanding that, at the end of the day, the answer to it all … to all of everything that goes on in our world is Jesus.”
Isaac closed out the conversation post game saying this.
“I’m Black,” Isaac said. “I grew up Black. I have a Black little brother that lives in America, so I’m not for racism. And I don’t think that me not kneeling before the game and not wearing a T-shirt makes me mean that at all.”
My Thoughts on His Decision
While I don’t agree with his decision, nor reasoning, we should respect it.
We can not make kneeling for the anthem a forced action. We could disagree, even be upset and disappointed in his choice, but let’s not tear the man down for an individual choice. Let’s keep this demonstration pure and filled with love.