Story behind NBA player's controversial anthem decision

Yahoo Sports Staff
·3-min read
Jonathan Isaac is pictured standing during the national anthem, while his teammates can be seen alongside taking a knee in protest.
Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic stands as his teammates and opponents kneel in protest before the Magic's clash with the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac chose not to join his teammates in protest Friday. While the rest of the Magic got down on one knee during the national anthem, Isaac chose to stand.

Isaac, 22, was the only player to do so. Isaac was also the lone player on the court who didn’t wear a Black Lives Matter shirt.

HEARTFELT: LeBron James' touching Kobe Bryant tribute in NBA restart

‘FAMILY AT RISK’: Aussie NBA star details virus nightmare

Instead, he wore his Magic jersey and warmup pants during the anthem.

With the move, Isaac becomes the first NBA player to stand during the national anthem since the restart.

During Thursday’s games, every coach and player on the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz took a knee in protest of racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.

Following the Lakers’ win over the Clippers, LeBron James said he hopes NBA players made former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick proud.

Isaac spoke about his decision after the game, saying kneeling and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt doesn’t “go hand in hand” with supporting Black lives.

When asked about Isaac’s decision not to kneel, Brooklyn Nets rival Garrett Temple said it wasn’t a huge deal for him, considering Isaac had supported the fundamental goals of the Black Lives Matter protests.

“People protest in their own way,” Temple said.

“If somebody believes that isn’t the way they want to protest, then they don’t do it.

“At the end of the day, I don’t have a problem with what Jonathan did.

“I only have a problem with it if he says ‘Black lives don’t matter’ or he disagrees with that we’re fighting for.”

In an interview with Click Orlando in June, Isaac addressed George Floyd’s murder, racism in the United States and police brutality, saying he believes the “answer is Jesus.”

Isaac also spoke about NBA players using their platforms to send a message, but he said it should be done “in a balanced way.”

Orlando Magic supporting NBA player protests

Following the national anthem demonstration, the Magic released a statement supporting Magic players for kneeling in protest.

The team said it was proud of its players, and stressed that the protests are not about the military, but about “bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police.”

Jonathan Isaac is pictured smiling during Orlando's win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Jonathan Isaac scored 16 points and logged six rebounds in Orlando's win over Brooklyn in the NBA's season restart. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

“The DeVos family and the Orlando Magic organisation 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 colour,” the statement read.

“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.”