Magics’ Jonathan Isaac is first NBA player to stand for anthem


Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stands for the national anthem without a BLM shirt – the first NBA player to do so rather than protest racism since the league re-opened

  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood for the national anthem before Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets without wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt 
  • Isaac became the first player to stand for the anthem rather than demonstrate against racism alongside his teammates since the NBA re-opened on Thursday
  • Pelicans, Jazz, Lakers, and Clippers players and coaches all took a knee Thursday to protest racism and show support for the Black Lives Matter movement
  • The NBA has been on hiatus since March 11, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Now 22 teams are finishing the season in Orlando 

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood for the national anthem before Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first NBA player to do so rather than kneel in protest of racism since the league’s season restarted at Disney World on Thursday night.

Not only did Isaac stand for the anthem, but he declined to wear a Black Lives Matter warmup t-shirt as all the other players did during the pre-game demonstration. 

‘I believe that Black Lives Matter,’ he said afterwards, as quoted by Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. ‘Kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives.’

As was the case before Thursday’s games, players, coaches, and referees all took a knee and locked arms before Friday’s Magic-Nets game with the obvious exception of Isaac.

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood for the national anthem before Friday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first NBA player to do so rather than kneel in protest of racism since the league's season restarted at Disney World on Thursday night

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood for the national anthem before Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first NBA player to do so rather than kneel in protest of racism since the league’s season restarted at Disney World on Thursday night

Jonathan Isaac (1) stands as others kneel before the start of a game against the Brooklyn Nets

Jonathan Isaac (1) stands as others kneel before the start of a game against the Brooklyn Nets

The DeVos family, which owns the Magic, released a statement in support of the protest during Friday’s game.

‘The DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic organization fully supports Magic players who have chosen to leverage their professional platform to send a peaceful and powerful message condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police, especially against people of color,’ read the statement. 

‘We are proud of the positive impact our players have made and join with them in the belief that sports can bring people together — bridging divides and promoting inclusion, equality, diversity and unity.’

The DeVos family includes US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who is married to Richard DeVos Jr. — the son and namesake of the Amway co-founder.

On Thursday, former NBA star-turned-TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley said he would support anyone who chose not to kneel during the anthem. 

‘I’m glad these guys are unified,’ he said after players protested on Thursday. ‘If people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear. I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified.’ 

Every person present at HP Fieldhouse on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando knelt during the national anthem before the first games of the NBA’s restarted season on Thursday night.

All players, coaches and staff members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, along with all officials, wore shirts reading ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER,’ which was also printed on the court. Many locked arms with those next to them, while some players raised fists in the air.

LeBron James points to the sky after kneeling in protest of racism during the anthem

LeBron James points to the sky after kneeling in protest of racism during the anthem 

The players and coaches on the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers also knelt prior to Thursday night’s later game at The Arena on the Wide World of Sports campus.

The anthem before the Jazz-Pelicans game was performed virtually by Louisiana native Jon Batiste, who played a rendition with a mix of piano and guitar.

Before the anthem, the TNT broadcast aired an introductory segment narrated by rapper Meek Mill, promoting social justice initiatives and the BLM movement, followed by a segment with several NBA players speaking on the subject.

Players displayed a variety of social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, including ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Say Their Names’ and ‘I Can’t Breathe.’

The game was the first in four-plus months since the regular season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Again at the Lakers-Clippers game, various players had social justice messages on the backs of their uniforms. Lakers star LeBron James passed on the option and went with his last name.

The Compton Kidz Club sang the national anthem through a video feed before the Clippers faced the Lakers.

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