Miami Heat middle Meyers Leonard stood throughout the nationwide anthem earlier than Saturday’s sport in opposition to the Denver Nuggets, saying afterward he will be each a patriot and a supporter of Black Lives Matter.
“I feel I generally is a beacon of sunshine … not just for my voice or platform and motion, however in the whole lot I am doing,” Leonard, who’s white, instructed Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated after the sport. “I actually help Black Lives Matter. … I’m very conscious of what’s going on. However I will be each. My patriotism runs deep.”
Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac was the primary participant within the NBA bubble to face throughout the nationwide anthem on Friday. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon additionally stood later Friday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Leonard, who was the lone participant on the sport to face, cited his respect for the U.S. navy. His brother Bailey Leonard served two excursions in Afghanistan with the Marines. However he famous that he does not suppose kneeling is disrespectful.
And he stated he struggled along with his determination on what to do throughout the anthem.
“I have not slept. I am a zombie proper now. It has been troublesome as a result of the reality of the matter is I’ve a loving coronary heart, very compassionate and I am very conscious of what’s taking place in America at present and what has been occurring for a few years,” Leonard instructed Spears.
Leonard, 28, finally stood along with his hand over his coronary heart and wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt over a jersey that stated “Equality.” He stated his determination got here after powerful and trustworthy discussions in latest days with Warmth teammates Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Udonis Haslem, in addition to former Portland Trail Blazers teammates Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and the Blazers’ director of safety, Rick Riley.
“I [was] conscious a few of the backlash that might occur. I perceive. Nonetheless, I imagine in my coronary heart that I did the fitting factor,” Leonard instructed Spears. “Our world proper now could be black and white. There’s a line within the sand, and it says if I do not kneel, then I am not with Black Lives Matter. That’s not true.”
Leonard additionally spoke to his brother and Navy SEALs.
“I perceive that [kneeling during the anthem] will not be in regards to the flag and the navy, however to me, it’s. Based mostly upon real-life experiences and actual uncooked emotion that I’ve had in my life, that’s what which means to me,” stated Leonard, who was sporting military-style boots, backpack and masks.
He added: “And I am hopeful that folks that do not know me can both study or ask. I did in my coronary heart what was proper to me.”
Warmth coach Erik Spoelstra stated Leonard had the help of the locker room.
“Everyone is aware of the place his coronary heart is and he is totally behind this [Black Lives Matter] motion similar to everyone else in our group, and on this affiliation,” Spoelstra stated.
Info from The Related Press was used on this report.