While every other player and coach on the Orlando Magic was kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before a game Friday, July 31, Jonathan Isaac stood. Other players and coaches took a knee to peacefully protest police brutality against black lives in America. But Isaac, who struck a lonely and contrasting figure in his jersey, became the first NBA player to stand during the anthem this season.
The power forward, who averages over 12 points in just under 30 minutes a game for the Magic, also decided against wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt that every other player has been wearing over their jersey during pre-game warmups and ceremonies.
The Orlando Magic defeated the Brooklyn Nets 128-118, and saw Jonathan Isaac score 16 points in 16 minutes. In an interview Isaac gave after the game, he was asked, “you didn’t kneel during the anthem, but you also didn’t wear a ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirt. Do you believe that black lives matter?”
Jonathan Isaac Thinks the Gospel Is More Helpful Than Kneeling
Isaac (22), who became an ordained minister this past spring and is African American, responded, “Absolutely. A lot went into my decision.” He went on to say, “kneeling or wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt don’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives…I do believe that black lives matter, putting that shirt on or kneeling doesn’t make me support black lives or not.”
My life has been supported through the gospel.
The Magic’s forward explained that his life has been supported through the gospel and Jesus Christ. Isaac continued to then give the gospel: “Everyone is made in the image of the God, and we all fall short of God’s glory….We all make mistakes, and I think that the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that there is grace for us. And that Jesus came and died for our sins and that if we if all will come to an understanding of that, and understand that God wants to have a relationship with us…that we can get past skin color, we can get past all the things in world that is messed up; jacked up.”
“Racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation, that plagues our world,” he said. “We want to to get past not only racism but everything that plagues us as a society. I feel like the answer to it is the gospel.”
The reporter followed up with asking, “Can you explain further what religion has to do with kneeling for the anthem to protest against racism and police brutality…the correlation between the two?”
Black lives are supported through the gospel.
Isaac graciously answered, “Honestly I don’t really see it as religion for myself. I see it as a relationship with God, through His Son who died for our sins. Kneeling and putting on a t-shirt, for me personally isn’t the answer. For me, black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel.” He ended his answer with, “We all fall short of God’s glory and at the end of the day, whoever will humble themselves and seek God and repent of their sins that we could see it in a different light…see our mistakes and people’s mistakes in a different light…that it would help bring us closer together, and get past skin color and anything else on the surface that doesn’t really deal with the hearts of men and women.”
He explained he met with his teammates prior to the game and discussed why he wasn’t wearing the ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt or kneeling, and they said he had their respect. Isaac emphasized he wasn’t breaking with the team to try and stand out, but that he was trying to be a humble servant of Jesus.