One NBA star stood for the national anthem and you won’t believe what happened next

Cat2 / Culture

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

National anthem protests overtook pro sports in 2020.

But not everyone went along.

And one NBA star stood for the national anthem and you won’t believe what happened next.

Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac inks new $84 million deal

The Orlando Magic drafted forward Jonathan Isaac with the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Isaac missed the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons with knee injuries.

But he returned this year to play 58 games while helping lead the Magic to 47 wins and a berth in the NBA playoffs.

The Magic rewarded Isaac with a five-year $84 million contract.

It wasn’t always clear that he would make it in the NBA.

In fact, many thought Isaac would end up a pariah because of his political views.

Isaac’s takes a political stand

While Isaac is clearly a good player who plays rotation minutes on a winning team, what he’s best known for was being one of the few NBA players to stand for the national anthem once the league returned from its COVID lockdown and the death of George Floyd.

When the NBA returned to the “bubble,” players wore social justice messages in place of their names on the back of their jerseys.

The league also put Black Lives Matter on the courts.

Isaac told former University of Kentucky swimmer turned political activist Riley Gaines that he understood he was under pressure to kneel for the anthem like the other players in the NBA.

But he said he opposed the political goals of the Black Lives Matter movement which explicitly said it supported the destruction of the nuclear family and staged the riots that took place in the summer of 2020.

“For me, it was simply about offering another solution. I saw the issue. I saw the problem. I saw what happened to George Floyd. And as I listened to the tone and the rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter organization and movement, I never truly felt comfortable,” Isaac stated.

Isaac recounted how the moment he knew he was going to stand for the anthem came during a team meeting before the Magic’s first game inside the bubble. 

“Getting into the bubble, I’m faced with this moment of being with my teammates the day before I decided to stand, and we’re having this team-only meeting, and they’re saying, ‘We don’t have a choice. A team already knelt the day before. We’re just going to go along with it and everybody be happy.’” Isaac recalled. “And one of my teammates turned towards me and says, ‘What are you going to do?’

That’s when Isaac said he told his teammates that not only would he refuse to kneel for the anthem, but that he also refused to wear the Black Lives Matter t-shirt the other players wore.

“And I said, ‘Fellas, I’m not going to kneel, and I’m not going to wear that T-shirt. Simply because I have another solution. I don’t believe that kneeling for the national anthem or wearing a T-shirt is the same thing as saying that we support black lives. They’re not synonymous,” Isaac explained.

Isaac told Gaines he discussed the matter with his pastor who told him that if he stood for his faith and values then God would stand with him,

“And he said to me, ‘Jonathan, you cannot stand for God, and God not stand for you.’ And that was kind of the mic-drop moment of ‘I’m going through with this. I’m going to trust God,’” Isaac continued. 

He said he knew he chose a righteous path because the easier choice that would lead to fame and attention would be to go along with the crowd and not be different.

“I know that it’s not about me wanting the spotlight. It’s not about me wanting fame. It would be easier for me to just go along with what everybody is doing,” Isaac concluded.

It all worked out in the end as Isaac is now a key piece for a playoff contender.

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