NBA Player Stands for Anthem: ‘Black Lives are Supported Through the Gospel’

John Jakubisin | August 3, 2020 | 2:55pm EDT
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Orlando Magic player Jonathan Isaac.  (Getty Images)
Orlando Magic player Jonathan Isaac. (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- Jonathan Isaac, a team member of the Orlando Magic, became the first player to stand for the National Anthem in the restart of the NBA season, as well as the first player to not wear a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt. 

Before Friday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets, Isaac was wearing his Magic game jersey instead of the “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt that other players were wearing.

When asked after the game if he “believes that Black lives matter,” Isaac responded, “Absolutely, I believe that Black lives matter. A lot went into my decision and part of it is my thought that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt doesn't go hand in hand with supporting Black lives.”

Isaac continued, “My life has been supported through the Gospel. Everyone is made in God’s image and we all fall short of God’s glory. Each and every one of us do things every day that we shouldn’t do.”

“We say things we shouldn’t say,” he added. “We shouldn’t hate or dislike. Sometimes it gets to a point where we point fingers whose evil is worse. Sometimes it comes down to whose evil is most visible.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“I felt like I wanted to take a stand on: ‘We all make mistakes,’” Isaac said. “Because I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ says there is Grace for us, and that Jesus came here to die for us. If we all come to an understanding of that and God wants to have a relationship with us, we can get past all the things in our world that are messed up and jacked up.” 

“When you look around, racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation and plagues our world,” he said.  “I feel like coming together we want to get past not only racism but everything that plagues our society, I feel like the answer is the Gospel.”

Isaac was asked a follow-up question, “What do you feel like religion has to do with kneeling for the anthem to protest against racism and police brutality?”

Isaac responded, "Honestly, I don’t 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.” 


According to ESPN, Isaac had discussed his position with his teammates before the game. Isaac said, “We had a team meeting. I told them that they know who I am as a man, they know who I am as a person. They know what it is that I believe and they respected me for the decision that I made and it was all love.”

“So they understood that for me personally, it's not coming from a position of wanting to be popular or seen or anything other than a humble [servant] of Jesus,” said Isaac. “And that's where I stake my flag and that's just how I felt and they respected me for it because they know who I am, they know my heart."

Isaac performed well in Friday’s game, scoring 16 points in 16 minutes of play time. Unfortunately, Isaac suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, according to ESPN

Since Isaac, only one other player has stood for the National Anthem. Meyers Leonard, who plays for the Miami Heat, stood prior to Saturday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Leonard cited his brother’s service in the military as his reason for standing, while also wearing the “Black Lives Matter” shirt.

Leonard said, “I certainly support Black Lives Matter...I am very aware of what is going on. But I can be both. My patriotism runs deep,” ESPN reported

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