The Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac stood alone among the players for the US national anthem ahead of his team’s clash with the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, saying that “the answers to all of the world’s problems, not only racism, is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In Thursday’s opening games at the NBA restart in Orlando, all of the players and coaches dropped to one knee in a silent demonstration during the anthem.
Magic and Nets players followed suit on Friday as the Star-Spangled Banner was played, but Isaac did not.
Instead, Isaac stood alone wearing his Magic jersey amid his teammates, who wore “black lives matter” T-shirts.
At a news conference after Orlando won 128-118, a reporter asked Isaac if he believes that black lives matter.
“I believe that black lives matter. A lot went in my decision. I just felt that kneeling or wearing a black lives matter T-shirt don’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives,” Isaac said. “I believe that my life has been supported through the gospel, Jesus Christ, and that everyone is made in the image of God, and we all fall short of God’s glory. And each and everyone of us do things we shouldn’t do and say things we shouldn’t say, we dislike people that we shouldn’t hate and dislike.”
“When you look around, racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, plagues our nation, plagues our world. So I felt like coming together on that message, not only racism, but everything that plagues our society, I feel our answer to it is the gospel,” he said.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also stood while players and coaches on the Spurs and Sacramento Kings knelt during the anthem.
Popovich said that his reason for standing was personal and he did not want to disclose it.
“I prefer to keep that to myself,” Popovich said. “Everybody has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about that. Everybody has the freedom to react any way that they want. For whatever reasons that I have, I reacted the way I wanted to.”
In the game, Evan Fournier scored 24 points and Nikola Vucevic had 22 as Orlando picked up where they left off before the NBA season was suspended by beating Brooklyn.
Playing as the designated road team not far from their arena, the Magic looked right at home at Disney — whose name they wear as their jersey patch. They extended their winning streak to four and moved back ahead of the Nets into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn also won their three before the stoppage, but the decimated team that returned is a shell of the one that beat the Lakers in Los Angeles in its final game. The Nets are missing Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince after they tested positive for the coronavirus. They are already playing without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 24 points for the Nets.
Additional reporting by AP
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