Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Dion Waiters reportedly told the Northeast Ohio Media Group, following his absence during the national anthem before Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz, that he missed the pre-game anthem because of his Muslim beliefs and was planning to continue skipping it.
According to Cleveland.com, Waiters was absent from both the anthem and from starting lineup introductions, prompting rumors and speculation as to why he would opt to remove himself from the longstanding tradition. When asked why he skipped the national anthem, Waiters said it was “because of my religion. That’s why I stayed in the locker room.” The 22-year-old was then asked if he planned to continue his “pre-game ritual” throughout the season.
“Yes, I do,” Waiters responded.
Despite missing the anthem before Wednesday’s game, Waiters was present for the moment before the Cavaliers faced off against the Denver Nuggets on Friday. After the game against the Nuggets, Waiters refused to answer any further questions about his beliefs. “I don’t really want to talk about that, my religion,” Waiters said. “I want to talk about basketball.”
Following Waiters’ comments to NEOMG being published, the player sought to clarify his remarks and set the record straight about his absence from the national anthem. Chris Haynes, reporter for NEOMG, stated in a follow-up story that Waiters reached out to him in an effort to clear up confusion regarding the reports. Haynes said that when he asked Waiters if he “planned to continue his pregame ritual,” he was referring specifically to skipping out on the national anthem. Waiters, however, interpreted Haynes’ question as a reference to his pre-game prayer and meditation ritual.
According to Haynes’ follow-up, after clarifying his statement, Waiters said that he wished to put the “simple miscommunication” behind him and plans to be on the court for the national anthem during the remainder of the season.
Source: Cleveland.com / Photo Credit: Associated Press