Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac garnered widespread attention and scrutiny in 2020 when he chose to stand for the national anthem before games — even as every other member of his team knelt while wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
For Isaac, an outspoken Christian, to kneel would be to throw support behind a movement that could not ultimately heal the nation's growing racial divide, or any other fundamental human problem, for that matter. The only thing that can do that is the love of Jesus Christ as displayed in his death and resurrection.
That's the message Isaac has been sharing again this week ahead of the launch of his new book, "Why I Stand," published by Daily Wire Books.
In several promotional media appearances this week, Isaac has sought to encourage others to seek answers for their pain and source the strength to stand through the gospel message.
Speaking on Saturday at the ReAwaken America Tour, Isaac said recalled how his faith motivated him to take a different approach amid immense pressure to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter.
"Around the time, that George Floyd had tragically died ... I tried my best to see it in the right way," Isaac told the crowd at the conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "I didn't view it as an African-American. I didn’t view it as a conservative. I didn’t view it as a liberal. I tried my best to combat the message from a Christian perspective. I tried to see it the way Christ would see it."
"What I didn’t want to do in that moment was join into a fight by kneeling for the National Anthem. Obviously, the fight between black and white, the fight between right and left, and everything that was going on. I wanted to view it in the way that Christ would," he continued.
He went on to say: "Around that time, my pastor had preached a message. The message was about when Jesus was about to be taken by the Roman Guard, and Peter lunged forward and chopped off the man's ear, and Jesus stopped him, and he said, 'Those that live by the sword, will die by the sword.' And, ultimately that Jesus had a greater plan. So, I decided to stand. It wasn't entirely about the flag. It was just that moment of saying, 'I believe that the love of Jesus Christ is what is ultimately going to heal this world because it is what has healed me.'"
The NBA player similarly told Fox News host Will Cain this week that "the love of Jesus Christ and the gospel" is the "greatest message and antidote" for the problems the world is facing.
Then, in an interview with the Daily Wire ahead of his book's release, Isaac explained that "to kneel and wear a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don't go hand in hand with the support of black lives."
Isaac, who has also rankled many on the left over his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, also articulated how his faith in Jesus has freed him to stand firm in the face of cultural pressure.
A summary of "Why I Stand" on Amazon describes the book as the telling of Isaac's "discovery that no matter your level of confidence today, God’s strength will develop in your weakness" and "that courage is found in trusting that God is greater than your fears."
In a statement responding to Isaac's most recent public comments, the Orlando Magic said, "Jonathan is a thoughtful young man with tremendous faith who has done great work in the community and is using his platform to express his voice."