Dion Waiters has had quite the weekend. After missing the Star Spangled Banner on Wednesday night in Portland, it was reported by Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that he sat it out due to his Muslim faith and wouldn't be standing for the national anthem moving forward. The report came out just before Friday night's game with the Utah Jazz ... where Waiters came out and stood for the national anthem. Waiters played a good fourth quarter through the pain of a Darrell Arthur flagrant two foul that ultimately led to a one game suspension.
The next morning, Waiters came out firing on his twitter account.
Lol I wasn't going to even say anything about the situation but whoever made that up about me & the national anthem is a damn lie....
— Dionwaiters3 (@dionwaiters3) November 8, 2014
I can't believe yall believe everything yall hear smh I guess ppl listen to anything now a days!!! I love everything about America!!!!!!!
— Dionwaiters3 (@dionwaiters3) November 8, 2014
After this, Haynes and Waiters talked to try and work out what the issue was. Haynes' account reiterated that Dion said his religion was the reason he missed the national anthem:
"It's because of my religion," Waiters said. "That's why I stayed in the locker room."
I never recalled Dion missing a national anthem performance before, but he did mention he is rededicating himself to his religion. I then asked if he planned to continue this pre-game ritual the remainder of the season, and he replied, "Yes, I do."
Thus, the story was born.
Dion and I had a long conversation on Saturday and we came to the realization that we were thinking two different things.
When I asked if he planned to continue his pregame ritual, I meant did he plan on skipping the national anthem from here on out. He said he was under the impression that I was asking if he would continue his prayer and meditation before games.
Waiters reiterated that he would be present during the national anthem. He called it a "simple miscommunication" and added that he's looking forward to moving past this situation.
So Dion said he thought Haynes was asking if he would continue to pray and meditate before games, and Haynes said yes. There's obviously nothing wrong with that, so the two worked out their story and this all goes away, right? From the Akron Beacon Journal's transcript of Dion's availability:
Question: Dion, I asked you after the game on Friday what happened on Wednesday and you said you don’t want to talk about it because it’s your religion.
Waiters: There’s nothing to talk about. I missed it the one time because I went back and did what I normally do and it just took longer.
Question: But in your explanation you said, "It’s my religion." You said it.
Waiters: I knew what you were getting into. I don’t have to talk about that. I talk about basketball, not talk about me. Focus on the team. We had a big team win and that’s what it should’ve been about. It shouldn’t have been about me or what I believe in. At the end of the day, like I said, I’m always out there for the national anthem. I missed it one time. I think the story got blown out of proportion. I’m just here to let you all know and let the world know I love my country and everything that goes to it.
Question: That message will get out. But the whole reason we’re discussing this is because we feel like you’re the one who brought religion into it.
Waiters: That’s on y’all then. That’s what y’all think. I can’t change what you think. I’m just here to voice my opinion and tell y’all what really happened and it had nothing to do with my religious beliefs at all.
Question: When you disappear between 5 and 7 minutes left until the (pregame) horn, what are you doing? Are you stretching? Are you praying?
Waiters: I’m not praying. I’m just going through my routine.
Question: So it’s not religious at all?
Waiters: Nah. Nothing to do with religion when I go back there. At all.
You should read the whole transcript if you find this interesting. The most important thing in terms of fandom is that this really has nothing to do with basketball. Waiters clearly just wants to put this all behind him. If he has religious rituals before the game that really shouldn't be an issue at all as long as they don't hurt others or the team. We haven't heard yet of his desire to sacrifice a live chicken on the eve of a make or break game just yet. In terms of the team, his status on Monday against the Pelicans being questionable is probably more important.
Still, it is a little weird for him to once again dispute Haynes' story, even after they had apparently come to an understanding just 24 hours before.
I'm going to leave the comments open on this one. Please be respectful. I'd guess most of us just want this story to go away.