LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Meyers Leonard has a brother who served two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines. He carries a military-themed backpack, wears combat boots and has a phone loaded with Navy SEALs who are his friends.
He also makes this clear: “I absolutely believe Black Lives Matter,” he said.
Still, Leonard simply could not bring himself to kneel for the national anthem.
Wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt over a jersey that he ordered to say “Equality,” and as all other coaches and players around him knelt, Leonard stood for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Saturday before the Heat re-opened their season by facing the Denver Nuggets at Walt Disney World.
“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.”
Leonard dealt with anxiety and sleeplessness for several days as he agonized over the decision. He explained his reasoning before Saturday to current teammates and several former ones, almost all of them Black — then stood near midcourt, hand over his heart, as the song blared.
“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, …read more