The media in Cleveland was curious as to why Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters was absent during the national anthem Wednesday night before the Cavs’ matchup with the Utah Jazz.
They now have their answer.
Waiters told reporters Friday, per The Plain Dealer’s Chris Haynes, that he plans to excuse himself from national anthems because he is rededicating himself to his Muslim faith.
“It’s because of my religion,” Waiters said. “That’s why I stayed in the locker room.”
Some practicing Muslims consider standing for national anthems to be against their religion, viewing it as form of worship, but this is a debated interpretation among most Muslim scholars. Waiters also stood for the national anthem Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets, so it’s unclear what his intentions are for the season.
Former Nuggets point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf took the same stance as Waiters in 1996, and it was met with much controversy. Abdul-Rauf was dealt a one-game suspension before agreeing that he would close his eyes in prayer during the anthem instead of skipping it.
As for Waiters, some media outlets are speculating that this might be a reason why the guard lost his starting job. Haynes, however, said Waiters “appears to be in a happier state.”
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