NBA Star Explains Why He Didn't Kneel and Wear Black Lives Matter Shirt During National Anthem

"I do believe Black lives matter, but I just felt like it was a decision I had to make," Jonathan Isaac said

Orlando Magic
Photo: Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images

NBA player Jonathan Isaac did not join his fellow teammates in kneeling for the national anthem during their matchup with the Brooklyn Nets Friday.

The Orlando Magic forward, who is Black, stood while the players and coaches from both teams took a knee and wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts in support of the current movement against police brutality and racial inequality. The 22-year-old athlete wore his team jersey in place of the Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

Isaac explained his decision to reporters, citing his religious beliefs and saying he didn’t think "putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives."

“I do believe Black lives matter, but I just felt like it was a decision I had to make,” Isaac said.

"For me, Black lives are supported through the gospel,” he continued. "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 of men and women."

The NBA season resumed on Thursday with two games: the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Clippers and the Utah Jazz versus the New Orleans Pelicans. For both games, each player knelt during the national anthem while wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.

Following the Lakers game, LeBron James said he hoped they “made Kap proud,” referring to the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the #TakeAKnee movement during football’s 2016 preseason.

NBA Black Lives Matter
LeBron James and fellow Lakers players kneel for the national anthem. Mike Ehrmann/Getty

On Saturday, Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard did not kneel during the national anthem, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Leonard, who is white, told the Associated Press, “I absolutely believe Black Lives Matter,” he said but couldn’t bring himself to kneel.

"Some of the conversations I've had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult," Leonard said. "I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and assistant coach Becky Hammon both stood before the team’s game on Friday.

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