On Friday, while the national anthem was playing before the Orlando Magic/Brooklyn Nets game, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, an ordained Christian minister, became the first player in the NBA this season to stand for the national anthem. He also did not wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt as his teammates did.
“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,” The Associated Press reported.
After the game, Isaac spoke to the press. He was asked, “Do you believe that black lives matter?”
He answered, “Absolutely. I believe that black lives matter. 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 … 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 continued.
“I felt like I wanted to just take a stand on [it]. [I feel like] 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 get past all the things in our world that are messed up, jacked up,” Isaac continued. “I think 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, I feel like the answer to it is the gospel.”
Asked what the correlation was between kneeling for the anthem and religion, Isaac answered, “I don’t really see it as religion for myself; I see it as a relationship with God … I don’t think that kneeling or putting on a T-shirt, for me personally, is the answer. I feel like for me, black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel. That we all, like I said, have things that we do wrong … we all fall short of God’s glory, and that at the end of the day, whoever will humble themselves and see God and repent of their sins, that we could see it in a different light … see people’s evil in a different light … it would help bring us closer together, and get past skin color, get past anything that’s on the surface that doesn’t really deal with the hearts of men and women.”
I asked Jonathan Isaac two questions:
You didn’t kneel during the anthem but you also didn’t wear a black lives matter shirt. Do you believe black lives matter?
Can you explain what religion has to do with kneeling for the anthem to protest against racism and police brutality? pic.twitter.com/me61FleWPY
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) July 31, 2020