On Wednesday, before the Cavaliers’ game in Utah, those following Cleveland noticed Dion Waiters did not join the team during the pre-game presentation, including the singing of the national anthem. When asked by the Plain Dealer’s Chris Haynes, Waiters attributed his absence to his religious beliefs:
Waiters informed Northeast Ohio Media Group that he is a Muslim and that he plans to excuse himself prior to the national anthem from here on out.
“It’s because of my religion,” Waiters told NEOMG. “That’s why I stayed in the locker room.”
Waiters says he is rededicating himself more to his Muslim faith. He appears to be in a happier state.
As Haynes explains, Waiters was absent not only for the anthem, but for lineup introductions — a first because it was his first game of the season coming off the bench. In the Cavaliers’ next game on Friday in Denver, Waiters remained out of the starting lineup, but did join his teammates for the anthem.
Waiters is not the first NBA player to forego standing for the anthem because of his Muslim faith. Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Raouf famously drew a one-game suspension from the NBA for his refusal to stand.