Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic stood for the national anthem before his team’s game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, the lone player or coach in that game who did not kneel.
Isaac stood with his hands behind his back. He wore his Magic jersey and not the Black Lives Matter T-shirt that other players have had on for the anthems so far in the NBA’s season restart at Walt Disney World.
A person with knowledge of Isaac’s decision said it was not a surprise to his teammates and that his choice was discussed ahead of time. Teammates supported the decision, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Isaac had yet to discuss his decision publicly.
Isaac, an ordained minister, has a history of being active with various charities and churches.
Isaac received the Magic’s community service award last year. He has donated money to feed children affected by the coronavirus pandemic, led a Hurricane Dorian relief effort, and has raised money to help organizations promote literacy for children in Central Florida.
Players and teams at the restart at Disney have elected to kneel for the playing of the anthems, doing so along the sideline nearest their benches — which also happens to be the one where “Black Lives Matter” has been painted onto the playing surface.
The NBA has had a rule since the early 1980s saying players must stand for the anthem. But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday night that he was relaxing that policy in these times where a desire for equality and social justice is at the forefront of many conversations in this country.
Isaac was the first player to stand for the anthem in the restarted season.
The Magic and the Nets were the third game since the season resumed; the other 16 teams at the restart were scheduled to play their initial games by Saturday.
“Kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt doesn’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 ti simply whose evil is most visible,” Isaac added.
Later, he said his faith is more than “religion,” pointing out that it’s “a relationship with God.”