Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac was the lone player to stand during the national anthem before a recent game and to not wear the Black Lives Matter shirt. He cited the Gospel later when asked to explain his reasoning.
“I don’t think that kneeling or putting on a T-shirt for me, personally, is the answer,” the NBA player told Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks about the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.
“For me,” Isaac explained, “black lives are supported through the Gospel, all lives are supported through the Gospel.”
“My life has been supported by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone is made in the image of God and we all share in His glory. Each and every one of us each and every day do things we shouldn’t do. We say things we shouldn’t say. We hate and dislike people that we shouldn’t hate and dislike. And sometimes it gets to the point where we point fingers about whose evil is worse, and sometimes it comes down to simply whose evil is most visible.
“I felt like I wanted to just take a stand on … I felt like we all make mistakes but I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that there’s grace for us and that Jesus came and died for our sins, and that we all will come to an understanding of that and that God wants to have a relationship with us.”
He continued, “We all fall short of God’s glory, and at the end of the day, whoever will humble themselves and seek God and repent their sins, then we could see our mistakes and people’s mistakes and people’s evil in a different light, and that it would help bring us closer together and get past skin color, get past anything that’s on the surface that doesn’t really deal with the hearts of men and women.”
The player further explained, “I didn’t feel like putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand in hand with supporting black lives.”
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy expressed his support for Isaac.
"We’ve said people should be able to exercise their right to kneel during the National Anthem and we should listen & hear their reasons why. When Jonathan Isaac chooses to stand we should do the same," Dungy tweeted. "He explained his reasons very clearly-he wants to stand in prayer. I say Amen!"
In response to commenters who disagreed with Isaac standing, Dungy said, "I think he was making a statement that I don’t have to follow the actions of the crowd no matter how many others are doing it. He is man enough to stand for his conviction against tremendous peer pressure to go along."
In 2018, Isaac shared about his faith on social media.
“The funny thing to me about accepting Jesus is that, before I made the decision, I was so occupied with all the things that I'd be losing,” he tweeted. “Sex, clubs with my boys, manhood etc! Now all I see is all I’ve gained. And all of it so easily outweighs what I thought I needed to be a man.”
The athlete grew up a cultural Christian but did not have an actual relationship with God until he made the decision.
Last month, when MLB players knelt to honor Black Lives Matter ahead of the season opener, San Francisco Giants pitcher Sam Coonrod was similarly the only player who remained standing. He later explained that as a Christian, he doesn’t kneel before “anything besides God.”
“I’m a Christian, so I just believe that I can’t kneel before anything besides God,” Coonrod said at the time, according to TMZ Sports. “I don’t think I’m better than anybody. I’m just a Christian ... I feel if I did kneel, I’d be a hypocrite. I don’t want to be a hypocrite,” he said, according to San Francisco Chronicle.
“I just can’t get on board with a couple things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter, how they lean toward Marxism. And … they said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that.”