Chris Haynes of Northwest Ohio Media Group reported on Friday that Cleveland Cavaliers player Dion Waiters, who missed the National Anthem and starting lineup announcements for the first time on Wednesday, because he’s an America-hating Muslim.
It was the first game of the season that he was coming off the bench. He finally arrived from the locker room to join the Cavaliers’ bench a couple seconds before tip off. Folks started to speculate if he was injured, disgruntled or if this was his way of rebelling?
Turns out, Waiters was just acting in accordance with what he feels his religious beliefs are.
“Waiters informed Northeast Ohio Media Group that he is a Muslim and that’s the reason he excused himself prior to the national anthem,” Haynes wrote, explaining that Waiters told him, “It’s because of my religion. That’s why I stayed in the locker room.”
“The guard, however, did stand with his team during Friday’s national anthem before they faced the Denver Nuggets. Maybe he’s selective with it,” Haynes wrote.
This, of course, sparked a firestorm, with many commenters denigrating Muslims and Waiters in particular.
Haynes, tail between his legs, struggled to justify his initial claims. Did he provide evidence that he is correct? No. Did he post a retraction? No. It’s likely that Waiters was delayed for that one game because was praying, but Haynes does not seem to care.
On Friday, Dion informed me of his Muslim faith and said that was the reason he missed Wednesday’s 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.
Yes, the story was born of a reporter’s willingness to misrepresent information.
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.
Despite the blatant misrepresentation, “patriots” continued to complain about this “un-American Muslim trash.”