Saturday Miami Heat forward Meyers Leonard opted to stand during the national anthem.
Leonard became only the second player to stand for the anthem. Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic was the first.
Heat forward Meyers Leonard stood during the national anthem but wore a Black Lives Matters t-shirt. pic.twitter.com/JmEhHJ5Zij
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 1, 2020
Per Yahoo, before the game began, Leonard explained his decision to stand to the Associated Press.
He’s a big supporter of the military, as his brother, Bailey Leonard, served two tours in Afghanistan. (There was even a segment about Meyers’ and Bailey’s relationship on the Big Ten Network back in 2012.)
But he “absolutely” supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
He spent days (and several sleepless nights) thinking about whether he would stand or kneel.
“Some of the conversations I’ve had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult,” Leonard told the Associated Press prior to the game.
“I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country.”
In the end, Leonard decided to stand. But he wanted to make it clear that his decision to stand doesn’t mean he’s not an ally and supporter.
“I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people,” Leonard said. “I can’t fully comprehend how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into Black and white. There’s a line in the sand, so to speak: ‘If you’re not kneeling, you’re not with us.’ And that’s not true.
“I will continue to use my platform, my voice and my actions to show how much I care about the African American culture and for everyone,” he added. “I live my life to serve and impact others in a positive way.”
Heat captain Udonis Haslem originally wanted Leonard to kneel, but in his conversations with Leonard, he said he understood why Leonard was standing and vowed that he and the rest of the Heat would support him.
“His being out there with us, as our brother, it’s still showing strength, it’s still showing unity, it’s still showing that we’re coming together for a common cause,” Haslem told the AP.
“People will question, ‘Why isn’t he doing it their way?’ Well, he’s standing by us. He’s supporting us. He’s with us.”
Prior to the NBA’s restart, Charles Barkley weighed in on kneeling.
“The thing is, the national anthem means different things to different people,” Barkley said.
“I’m glad these guys are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear.”
Charles Barkley on anthem kneeling "If people don't kneel they're not a bad person" pic.twitter.com/qeZfjHTUZ4
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) July 30, 2020