Before the third game of the NBA bubble between the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac was conspicuous both for not wearing the Black Lives Matter shirt and for being the only person standing during the national anthem, while everyone else took a knee. Ahead of the game, he explained the decision to stand, saying that he didn’t feel that “putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives.”
As CNN reports, Isaac pointed to his devout faith for the explanation:
For me Black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel. We all have things that we do wrong and sometimes it gets to a place that we’re pointing fingers at who’s wrong is worst. Or who’s wrong is seen, so I feel like the Bible tells us that we all fall short of God’s glory. That 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.
Isaac was the first person in three games to not kneel; everyone took a knee before Thursday’s Jazz-Pelicans and Lakers-Clippers games. However, he was not alone on Friday; Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon both also stood. Popovich, an Air Force veteran, spoke to reporters after the game, saying he had his reasons for standing, just like players had their reasons to kneel:
Popovich again stresses the importance of bringing attention to racial injustice. As for why he decided to stand for anthem?
“I’d prefer to keep that to myself. Everybody has to make a personal decision. … For whatever reasons I had, I reacted the way I wanted to.”
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) August 1, 2020
The league is not enforcing its rule forcing everyone to stand for the anthem during what commissioner Adam Silver called “unique circumstances”:
I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem.
Those circumstances include protests that have taken place across the world since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25 of this year.
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