May 9, 2021

Magic’s Isaac first player not to kneel during anthem

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Jonathan Isaac has become the first NBA player not to kneel during the national anthem since the league restarted play on Thursday.

The Orlando Magic forward, an ordained minister, was also the first NBA player not to sport a Black Lives Matter shirt during the playing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ anthem.

Ahead of the Magic’s 128-118 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Isaac stood while his team-mates knelt around him.

Brooklyn Nets' Garrett Temple (17) dribbles as Orlando Magic's Jonathan Isaac (1) defends
Image: Brooklyn Nets’ Garrett Temple dribbles as Isaac defends

Explaining his stance, Isaac said: “Absolutely I believe Black Lives Matter. A lot went into my decision. Kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don’t go hand in hand in supporting Black lives.

“I do believe that Black lives matter, I just felt like it was a decision I had to make, and I didn’t feel like putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand in hand with supporting Black lives.

“I don’t think that kneeling or putting on a T-shirt for me, personally, is the answer.

“For me, Black lives are supported through the Gospel, all lives are supported through the Gospel.”

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Isaac, who scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in the Magic’s win, received the support of his coach Steve Clifford who backed the decision of the player to stand and not kneel.

“That’s a personal decision,” Magic coach Clifford said.

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford has backed Isaac's stance
Image: Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford has backed Isaac’s stance

“We’re all supporting each other in this, and if guys are not comfortable kneeling and they want to stand, nobody has a problem with that.

“I support him. His team-mates support him. The organisation supports him. That’s part of living in our country.”

All players and coaches for the New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers had kneeled for the anthem on Thursday.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant coach Becky Hammon both stood for the anthem on Friday and both wore Black Lives Matters shirts.

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