As his teammates and opponents knelt during the national anthem, Meyers Leonard remained standing.
Members of the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets opted to kneel prior to Saturday's matchup to protest racial inequality and police brutality. While Leonard didn't kneel, he explained his decision to remain standing before the game even began.
In his explanation, Leonard referenced his brother, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan with the Marines, and his friends who are Navy SEALS, according to the Associated Press:
"I absolutely believe Black lives matter. Some of the conversations I've had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult. 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."
The 2019-20 NBA season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, and players negotiated for an amplified voice regarding social justice issues as a condition to return to the court. The season officially resumed on Thursday, and teams have been kneeling together during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
All courts in Orlando have "Black Lives Matter" painted on them, and players are allowed to wear the names of various social justice causes on their jerseys. Some jerseys say things such a "Black Lives Matter," "Freedom," and "Love Us."
Kneeling during the national anthem began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing so to protest racial inequality in 2016, and many people took it out of context, thinking he was disrespecting the military and the flag of the United States.