A report emerged Friday that the reason Dion Waiters didn’t stand with his teammates during the national anthem in Utah on Wednesday was because of religious reasons, which included Waiters stating that he was Muslim.
This wasn’t one of those tidbits that came from anonymous sources, however; Waiters himself was quoted in the original story:
“Waiters informed Northeast Ohio Media Group that he is a Muslim and that’s the reason he excused himself prior to the national anthem.”
“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.”
A day later, Waiters denied the entire thing.
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
Because the person who reported the story has zero incentive to make something like this up, let’s try and take a guess at what may have actually taken place.
Waiters was replaced by Shawn Marion in the starting lineup for the game at Utah. He may — may — have not been too thrilled with this, and decided to take some extra time mentally preparing (or pouting) before tip-off, and missed the national anthem. When asked about it, Waiters may — may — have made up the whole religion thing, either as an attempt at humor or simply to diffuse any potential controversy surrounding the situation.
Whatever Waiters’ reasoning was, both for missing the anthem and for telling a reporter something he felt like denying the next day, is something only he can know. But much like the original story that came out, all of this additional attention focused on the team isn’t something the Cavaliers need as they struggle to find themselves in the early stages of the season.