National Basketball Association

Why Some Players, Coaches Chose to Stand

August 3

The NBA's restart in Orlando has garnered attention for what is happening before the game just as much as the game itself.

Last Thursday, the opening night of the restart, all four teams that played took a knee during the national anthem.

But the even bigger story might have been the few players who haven't kneeled. Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac was the first player to stand during the anthem prior to the Magic's first game against the Brooklyn Nets.

He spoke on why he made that decision in the postgame press conference.

Isaac had the full support of his teammates and organization in standing alone during the anthem, according to Magic head coach Steve Clifford.

And while some on Twitter criticized Isaac and others for their decision not to kneel, Marcellus Wiley explained that the players' character cannot be questioned simply because of this one outward choice.

"All of these people out here who want to go with this demonstration and display, okay, I respect that. If that's the way that you want to go up the mountain, I respect that ... We are at this place where now it has to be a display to show your actions, show your motivations, to show your energy to show your support.

"But last time I checked, the definition of character is what you display when no one and nobody is watching you."

Isaac wasn't alone, with Miami Heat forward Meyers Leonard standing during the anthem before the Heat's game against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, and again on Monday before Miami took on Toronto.

Leonard stated that his reasons weren't to oppose the Black Lives Matter movement but rather to honor his brother and other veterans who have represented the United States.

He also sat down and spoke to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports! in order to go into more detail on why he chose to stand and his thought process.

Leonard then further solidified his support of the BLM movement prior to Monday's game. 

On First Take, ESPN's Jay Williams explained how he has spoken with Black men who have served in the United States military and shared the message that were shared with him.

"I have black friends that served in the military. They did not find it disrespectful what Colin Kaepernick did. But they also decided that they still want to stand because of people that they've lost in respective wars that they've fought with, side by side. So they choose to have their fight in a different way.

"The people that were quick to jump on Colin Kaepernick for utilizing his platform, I just wanna make sure that we're not gonna be hypocritical and because somebody else chooses not to kneel, we're gonna vilify them and make them out to be bad people." 

San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich and assistant coach Becky Hammon also chose to stand during the anthem prior to the Spurs' two games in the bubble.

Popovich served five years in the United States Air Force and also currently serves as the United States Men's National Team head coach.

The Spurs' leading scorer, guard Demar Derozan, doesn't believe Popovich or Hammon should be condemned for their decision to stand.

Monday on Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe also explained why he doesn't have an issue with players and coaches choosing to stand during the anthem.

"I just wish the media would stop focusing on it. If the guys don't want to kneel, that's okay ... The guys who do take a knee, that's within their right. The guys who don't, that's within their right."

It remains to be seen whether players will continue to kneel during the national anthem for the remainder of the season.

But clearly, the NBA and its members have achieved their mission of drawing attention to raciaI injustice in America. 


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