Jonathan Isaac has become the first NBA athlete to stand for the national anthem as the league restarted its season after a 20-week pause due to Covid-19, explaining that kneeling doesn’t reflect his views.

Before his game with the Brooklyn Nets began, Isaac, who is black, stood as players and coaches from both teams took a knee. He also chose not to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt, donning his Orlando Magic jersey instead.

“I believe that black lives matter. A lot went into my decision, and part of it is, I thought that kneeling or wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives,” the Magic player said in a post-game interview on Friday, adding that he thought that America was too preoccupied with issues surrounding race.

I think when you look around, racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation, that plagues our world, and I think coming together on that message that we want to get past not only racism but everything that plagues as us as a society, I feel like the answer to that is gospel.

Isaac, who is also an ordained minister, said that kneeling for the national anthem conflicts with his religious conviction that “everyone is made in the image of God.”

His decision to stand for the national anthem was met with wide applause on Twitter, and even garnered him new fans.

A BASKETBALL PLAYER WITH BALLS!!!Magic forward Jonathan Isaac chose not to join his teammates in protest.

His opposition to kneeling wasn’t universally praised, however. Isaac’s detractors claim that he gave racists “ammunition” by not taking a knee.

Jonathan Isaac just gave racists so much ammo today it’s not even funny. Do me a favor and stay your dumbass in the locker room pregame for the rest of this restart…

The NBA has aggressively promoted social justice issues after restarting its season. Players have been permitted to wear anti-racist messages on their jerseys and basketball courts have been painted to include “Black Lives Matter”. After two days of games, every team that played has knelt for the national anthem.

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