In the news, it is often a question of context. Since 2016 and the controversial gesture of American football player Colin Kaepernick, no NBA player has knelt during the American anthem in protest against police violence on the black community, and whoever made the decision to to do would have been at the heart of the discussions.
This Saturday 1is August, on the third day of the resumption of the American basketball championship after more than four months of hiatus, it is, conversely, the players remaining standing who focus the attention.
Because, in the meantime, following the death of George Floyd, suffocated during his arrest by the police in Minneapolis (Minnesota), the Black Lives Matter movement (“black lives matter”) has emerged in the eyes of the American population, and the NBA – nearly 80 percent of whose players are black – has embarked on a massive campaign to promote social and racial equality.
Thus, Jonathan Isaac, the Orlando winger, was on Friday the first – two games had been played the day before – not to follow this new collective momentum, raising some questions about this choice. Especially since the Magic player was not wearing the Black Lives Matter support t-shirt either.
The 22-year-old African-American player assured after the meeting that he supported “Absolutely” Black Lives Matter :
“I just felt that getting down on my knees or wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt was not essential to support Black Lives Matter. “
“Everyone is made in the image of God and we are all far from living up to the glory of God”, continued Isaac, a practicing Christian who sometimes preaches in a non-denominational church in Orlando. ” When you look around you, racism is not the only thing that torments our society, which torments our nation, which torments our world ”, he continued.
Before concluding : “I find myself in this post, not just on racism, but everything that afflicts our society. I have a feeling that our answer to this is the Gospel. “
Gregg Popovich, a carrying voice, remained standing
Also on Friday, the charismatic coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, whose voice is one of those who carry the most in the league and who has delivered very strong messages in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement, took on like everyone else. world the black t-shirt, but remained standing during the Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem, just like his deputy Becky Hammon.
“I prefer to keep this to myself”, replied the 71-year-old technician to a journalist from the ESPN sports channel asking him why he had preferred to stand. “Everyone has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about it. Everyone has the freedom to react as they see fit. For all the reasons that are personal to me, I acted as I wanted ”, said the one who served five years in the US Air Force, the US Air Force, in the 1970s.
In the United States, the question of respect for the national anthem is often linked to military considerations: opponents or refractors to the kneeling – the fact of kneeling – see, in particular, a lack of respect for the American armed forces.
“How did our world turn into black and white?” “
White Miami player Meyers Leonard also opted to stand during the anthem on Saturday, despite wearing the Black Lives Matter support t-shirt, and the word « Equality » (“Tie”) on the back of his jersey during the match.
“I really support ‘BLM’ and I also love and support the army, my brother and the people who fought for our rights in this country”, said the pivot, whose eldest flew missions in Afghanistan with the Marines.
“I am a compassionate human being. I cannot fully understand how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into black and white ”, he added.
« “If you are not on your knees, you are not with us”, you might say. This is not true. I will continue with my voice and my actions to show how much I care about everyone. “
No jersey without a name
His teammate Jimmy Butler had to change his blank registration jersey just before facing Denver, to wear another with his name, at the request of the referee.
While the NBA authorized the players to replace their surname with a message of support for the fight against racial and social injustices, the winger had wanted to display nothing and explained himself just before the meeting:
“I approve and respect all the messages the league has chosen, but for me not to carry a message or name is like being who I was before. If I wasn’t who I am today, I wouldn’t be different from any other person of color. “
“I want that to be my message, as an NBA player. Everyone has the same rights, whatever happens ”, he added. Butler praised the collective momentum that has been occurring since Thursday to show wide support for Black Lives Matter : “This is what needs to be done. Because this is how we will achieve our goal for the greater good. “
Since the early 1980s, NBA regulations require standing during the national anthem. But league boss Adam Silver said on Friday that there would be no penalty due to current circumstances. The context, always the context …