Like millions around the globe, NBA star Jonathan Isaac was heartbroken and horrified by video footage of George Floyd’s death, but when it came time to react publicly, he thought twice.
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But Isaac decided to chart a different course.
“[I was watching] what happened to George Floyd and, as tragic as it was, trying to work through what is the best way to respond or if I need to respond at all,” Isaac told CBN’s “Faith vs. Culture.” “I was almost forced to because, once we get into the bubble, there is this immense pressure on NBA players to have to kneel for the National Anthem and wear a Black Lives Matter TV shirt.”
Isaac said, in some ways, it felt like there was no choice but to go along with what everyone else was doing, but as he pondered and prayed about how to progress, he came to a realization: a protest wouldn’t change hearts and minds.
Watch Isaac explain what unfolded:
“In the moment, I couldn’t think of a greater message or antidote for the times that we see,” he said. “Not just racism but all the things that plague the hearts of man. I couldn’t think of a better message than the Gospel.”
Rather than embrace any narrative outside of biblical truth, Isaac said he chose to cling to the Gospel and opted not to kneel or wear the BLM shirt.
His decision, though, wasn’t rooted in protesting or throwing hate or shade at Black Lives Matter. Instead, he said he wanted to show “the love of Christ.”
“It was really from a place of, I understand what’s going on … I understand the moment, but I know what the answer is going to be and the answer’s not going to be kneeling. The answer’s not going to be a movement or an organization,” Isaac said. “The answer’s going to be the hearts of men being changed, both black and white, both right and left.”
All of this culminated in his decision not to kneel — a moment that went viral last summer. Isaac said he prayed before and during the headline-making moment, asking God to help him be humble.
“God purity my motives,” he prayed.
Jonathan Isaac became the first #NBA player inside the bubble to stand during the national anthem. He also chose not to wear a #BlackLivesMatter shirt— Daren Stoltzfus WESH (@DarenStoltzfus) July 31, 2020
After the game the first question he fielded was “Do you believe Black Lives Matter?”
He responded: “Absolutely.”
Full answer: pic.twitter.com/SNBVar7pg7
During a subsequent press conference, Isaac explained his belief that black lives certainly matter but that his life is grounded in faith, not political mantras.
“I believe that black lives matter. Kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt [doesn’t] go hand-in-hand with supporting black lives,” Isaac said at the time. “My life has been supported through the Gospel — Jesus Christ — and everyone is made in the image of God.”
Anger and chaos followed, but Isaac didn’t back down. As for why he decided to speak out despite the cost, he said Christians are called to speak out on behalf of the gospel.
“Jesus said, ‘Take up your cross and follow me,'” he said. “It is the narrow road; it is the road less traveled. We are going to be persecuted at the end of the day.”
Watch Isaac’s full interview here.
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