Jonathan Isaac says he didn't kneel during the national anthem because 'All lives are supported through the Gospel'
By Mike D. Sykes, II | August 1, 2020 8:12 am
Almost every player, coach and team personnel member in the NBA knelt during the national anthem throughout the start of the league’s opening weekend on Friday. Players from the four teams that played on Thursday did the same.
The only NBA player who did not take a knee during the national anthem was Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac.
Isaac stuck out like a sore thumb. Not only was Isaac not on his knees, he also chose not to wear the Black Lives Matter warmup shirts the NBA provided and he didn’t wear a social justice message on the back of his jersey.
The picture is absolutely jarring.
Isaac is well within his right to stand for the anthem, not wear the warmup shirt and even to forgo devoting the name on the back of his jersey to a cause he believes in.
That’s what the movement is all about — Black folks having the freedom to choose. He doesn’t have to do any of it.
Where things get tricky, though, is in his explanation of why he didn’t. Isaac was asked by Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks why he stood for the anthem instead of kneeling with his teammates. Here’s what he had to say.
“Kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt didn’t go hand in hand with supporting Black lives…I believe that, for myself, my life has been supported through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that 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 every day do things that we shouldn’t do. We say things we shouldn’t say. We hate and dislike whatever we hate and dislike. And sometimes, we get into pointing fingers.”
That’s a lot. Again, Isaac is well within his right to not participate in these acts of solidarity with his contemporaries.
He’s not the only one who didn’t kneel — neither did Gregg Popovich or Becky Hammon. He’s not the only one who didn’t change the back of his jersey. Neither did LeBron James. They all have their reasons as to why they aren’t.
But Isaac’s explanation uses religion to explain away racism and violence against Black people and people of color across America. And that’s wrong.
That’s why Rook’s follow up question was so important.
“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. We all…have things that we do wrong.”
There you have it. Make of it what you will.
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