Jonathan Isaac stood, and stood out.
And later Friday, Gregg Popovich and Becky Hammon did the same.
Most players and coaches, but not all, are kneeling while pre-recorded versions of the national anthem are being played at the restarted NBA season. Isaac became the first player to not kneel when he stood before he and the Orlando Magic beat the Brooklyn Nets, 128-118.
In a later game, Popovich — a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and coach of USA Basketball’s national team in addition to his longtime duties as head coach in San Antonio — stood with his arms at his sides before the Spurs played Sacramento.
Hammon, one of Popovich’s assistant coaches, also stood. She draped one arm over the shoulders of Spurs assistant Will Hardy, kneeling to her right, and the other over veteran San Antonio guard Patty Mills, kneeling to her left. Popovich and Hammon both wore “Black Lives Matter’' T-shirts, as almost all players and coaches have for warm-ups and the anthem.
Isaac, an ordained minister, did not wear the shirt. He wore his white Orlando jersey instead, standing with his hands behind his back, the ordained minister praying silently as the song played.
“Kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives,’' Isaac said.
Isaac’s decision was not a surprise to his teammates; he revealed it in a team meeting earlier in the week.
“That’s a personal decision,’' Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “We’re all supporting each other in this. And if guys are not comfortable kneeling and they want to stand, nobody has a problem with that. I support him. His teammates support him. The organization supports him. That’s part of living in our country.’'
Popovich, who often speaks out on political and racial matters, has been vocal in recent weeks about the opportunity that the platform of the NBA restart at Walt Disney World provides. Television ratings for the first two games Thursday night were massive; Turner Sports, which aired the doubleheader on TNT, said the average of 3.4 million total viewers “more than doubled the network’s average viewership’' for regular season games.
James pays tribute to Kaepernick
LeBron James said that Colin Kaepernick ‘‘taught me a lot’' about the protest issue. Kaepernick, once a star quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, has not played in the NFL since he began protesting police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016.
James had the go-ahead basket with 12.8 seconds left in Thursday’s second game of the NBA’s re-opening doubleheader, moving the Lakers moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs by topping the Los Angeles Clippers, 103-101, on Thursday night in the second game of the NBA’s re-opening doubleheader. Anthony Davis had 34 points.
‘‘I hope we made Kaep proud,’' James said. The Lakers and Clippers donned ‘‘Black Lives Matter’' shirts and locked arms before their contest in a unified demonstration.
Williamson minutes limited
The New Orleans Pelicans stuck to a cautious plan to ease star rookie Zion Williamson back into action after he missed nearly two weeks of practice this month while attending to a private family medical matter. Williamson scored 13 points in about 15 minutes, using spin moves and explosive drives to hit contested, leaning layups. But with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter, Williamson checked out for good and watched the tense final minutes from the sideline. Rudy Gobert sank two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to cap a 14-point, 12-rebound and three-block performance, giving Utah a 106-104 victory in the first game of the NBA’s restart.