Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood out from his teammates Friday when he refused to kneel or wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt while the national anthem played prior to a game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Isaac is the first player not to kneel for the anthem since the NBA season restarted Thursday. He stood with his hands behind his back while wearing his Magic jersey.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that his decision was not a surprise to his teammates and that he talked about it with them beforehand.
After the game, a 128-118 Magic win, Isaac, an ordained Christian minister, told reporters he “absolutely” believes black lives matter and said “a lot went into my decision.”
“Kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don’t go hand in hand with supporting black lives,” he said. “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 with supporting black lives.”
“My life has been supported through the gospel, Jesus Christ, everyone is made in the image of God and that we all fall short of God’s glory, and that 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 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,” Isaac said.
“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 we all will 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 can get past all the things in our world that are messed up, jacked up.”
“When you look around, racism isn’t the only thing that afflicts our society, that plagues our nation, that plagues our world. I feel like coming together on that message that we want to get past not only racism but everything that plagues us as a society,” Isaac added.
“I feel like the answer to it is the gospel.”