Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat chose to stand for the national anthem while the rest his teammates knelt on Saturday, during the team’s reopening game against the Denver Nuggets at Walt Disney World.
Despite his public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, he says he couldn’t bring himself to kneel in protest.
“I absolutely believe Black Lives Matter,” he said, according to the NBA.
Nevertheless, he stood with his hand over his heart as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played just before tipoff.
On Twitter, the sister of Al Horford, Anna, jumped all over the opportunity to blast him for his actions.
“If he’s choosing to stand bc he “has family in the service” then he doesn’t understand the message of kneeling. It’s not disrespectful to want your country to do better. Kneeling during a song doesn’t take away from their service. That bs was made up to undermine peaceful protest”
As it turned out, that was exactly his reason.
“Some of the conversations I’ve had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult,” Leonard told The Associated Press before 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.”
“I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people,” he explained. “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.”
He added: “I live my life to serve and impact others in a positive way.”