For most, it would be considered a bold move. For Jonathan Issac, he was merely following his beliefs. Isaac created some noise this weekend when he was the lone NBA player to stand during the national anthem before the game featuring his Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets. When it was all said and done, it was shown that Isaac’s move was a very popular one.
Jonathan Isaac’s NBA career
After playing college basketball at Florida State, Jonathan Isaac was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft. Isaac, a 6-foot-11, 210-pound forward was selected with the sixth overall pick by the Orlando Magic.
Isaac appeared in just 27 games in his rookie season and wasn’t playing a whole lot. He averaged less than 20 minutes per game and had a 5.4 points-per-game scoring average. He was only averaging 3.7 rebounds per game as a guy who stood nearly seven feet tall. In his second season, his numbers increased and so did his production. He was playing 26.6 minutes per game and put up 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
This season, he was playing nearly 30 minutes per game and was averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds. His season, however, came to an abrupt end Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings. Isaac tore his ACL during the fourth quarter when he drove the lane and his left knee buckled.
Isaac stood for the anthem while everyone else took a knee
When the NBA returned to action last Thursday, it was evident there were going to be some changes. After a four-month hiatus, NBA players returned vocal about social justice issues that were brought to light during their absence of play. When George Floyd died on May 25, the topic of racial inequality was brought to light and NBA players brought that with them to the ‘bubble’ in Orlando, Florida.
Players were allowed to wear NBA-approved messages on the back of their jerseys. The NBA was also not going to punish players who wouldn’t stand for the national anthem. The league has had a rule since 1981 that states “players, coaches, and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line.”
While everyone during the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets game took a knee during the anthem, Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac stood. An ordained minister, Isaac’s move was a hot topic. He brought up his faith when questioned why he stood. “I don’t think that kneeling or putting on a T-shirt for me, personally, is the answer,” he said in an ESPN article. “I feel like for me Black lives are supported through the Gospel. All lives are supported through the Gospel.”
Isaac’s jersey sales skyrocket
When Jonathan Isaac didn’t join every other NBA player in kneeling before his team’s game Friday night, he wasn’t trying to make a statement. He wasn’t trying to show he wasn’t unified with the rest of the players. He was following his faith. After the game, he was immediately asked if he believed that Black lives matter.
“I believe that Black lives matter,” he said in the ESPN article. “A lot went into my decision and part of it is my thought that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don’t go hand in hand with supporting Black lives. And so I felt like, just me personally and what it is that I believe in, standing on a stance that I do believe that Black lives matter, but I just felt like it was a decision that I had to make and I didn’t feel like putting that shirt on went hand in hand with supporting Black lives.”
According to Sports Illustrated, the sales of Jonathan Isaac jerseys skyrocketed after he stood for the anthem. His sales were second to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Prior to the Magic’s game Sunday, the Isaac jerseys were nearly sold out.