The Nets’ first game of the NBA restart in Disney was poor. But their social justice statement beforehand was perfect.
Before the anthem and tipoff at ESPN Wide World of Sports, the NBA played a video documenting the league’s commitment to fighting social injustice and racism. The Nets donned Black Lives Matter shirts, and both they and the Magic players knelt for the national anthem.
“This is a hell of a moment,” Jarrett Allen said. “We have everybody, refs, coaches, our teammates, we all come from different backgrounds, but at the end of the day we all can see in each other that we’re all the same. We’re all humans, we all want equality, we all want peace.
“Like coach [Jacque] Vaughn says, we have a right to protest, we have a right to speak up, and this is us doing that.”
The exception on either team was Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, who instead opted to stand and wear his Orlando jersey with his hands behind his back.
For his part, Isaac didn’t view kneeling and wearing the shirt as the answer.
“Black lives and all lives are supported through the gospel,” said Isaac, an ordained minister who said he was praying during the anthem rather than singing it.
“I just wanted to take that stance to say Jesus is the answer. I didn’t think me wearing [messaging] on the back of my jersey was the answer.”
The moment made the Nets’ Garrett Temple emotional.
“It almost brought me to tears,” said Temple, a National Basketball Players Association vice president. “It meant a great deal for me with the background I’ve had: where I come from, what I believe in, what the platform allows us to do. It’s very powerful. The main thing I told my brothers and the people of my community was that I didn’t want to allow this to become a distraction.“I felt like we could use this platform to continue to push the narrative, and continue to keep this topic hot, because we know things like this often die down as life goes on, so we want to continue to keep it on people’s minds. What we did — and will continue to do — helped us to continue to do that.”
Not only the players, but even the coaches and refs locked arms and took a knee.
“I want my voice to be heard and just to have everyone see the movement and see that black lives should be valued just as much as any other,” Caris LeVert said. “I feel like it hasn’t recently, and it hasn’t for a long time now.”
Donta Hall — who didn’t play in any of the scrimmages — debuted with eight points and three rebounds in 12:27.