ROUNDBALL DAILY

Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic is one NBA player who did not take a knee or wear a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt

By Joel Alderman

The practice of kneeling during the National Anthem has generated a lot of controversies since Colin Kaepernick first did it prior to an NFL pre-season game in 2016. Now, it is has become so widespread that it is newsworthy when an athlete does NOT take a knee.

The Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac remained on his feet during the anthem just before the Friday (July 31st) game against the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA’s Florida “bubble” at Walt Disney World, and he also rejected the idea of wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt and displaying a social message on the back of his uniform.

He became the first NBA player to observe the anthem the conventional way on the second day of the abbreviated season, and it became a major subject of comment on social media. Many of those praised and supported Isaac for what they interpreted as his patriotic stance. They overlooked his true basis for standing.

“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, nobody has a problem with that. I support him. His teammates support him. The organization supports him. That’s part of living in our country.”

And Magic teammate Evan Fournier agreed. “We all support him.”

“I believe for myself my life has been supported through the gospel, image of God, all God’s glory. We all do things we should do, we hate those we shouldn’t,” he said in a zoom conference afterward.

Isaac has been involved with several charities and churches. Now in only his third NBA season, the 22-year old received the team’s community service award last year. He has donated and raised money to feed children affected by COVID-19 and to help promote literacy for kids in Florida, his home state.

Religion, not politics

Not going along with the others goes hand in hand with the response of many that ALL lives matter, not just WHITE lives, except in Isaac’s case it is based on his religious beliefs, not politics. “For me, Black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel,” he explained after the game.

So what went through his mind during the playing of the anthem when everybody else on the floor was kneeling?

Isaac revealed that he spent that time in prayer.

“Like any country, America has its issues, it has its problems,” he went on to say. “But I’m grateful for the freedoms here, the freedom to play basketball, and the freedom to do what I want to do — the ability to protest . . . to not protest.”

So what about Black Lives Matter?

“Absolutely, I believe that Black lives matter,” he continued.

Isaac made his teammates aware of his intentions ahead of time and felt they were understanding and respected him for his decision.

“I told them that they know who I am as a man, they know who I am as a person and what it is that I believe,” Isaac said. “I just wanted to take that stance and say that I believe that Jesus is the answer. I didn’t think wearing a message on the back of my jersey was the answer for me.”

Then he simply went out and scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds in just 16 minutes as the Magic beat the Nets 128-118. He made a statement of another kind, a pure basketball statement.

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