Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters told a reporter in Denver that he wasn’t present for the Wednesday night pre-game national anthem due to religious beliefs (Waiters is a Muslim.)

Once the inevitable firestorm erupted, Waiters shifted into full damage control mode over the weekend.

(You might recall the fan backlash the great Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf suffered for taking a similar stance.) Per the News-Herald:

“I love my country,” Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters said. “I love the United States of America.”

 

“I went in the back for my normal routine (in Utah), and it just happened to take longer than I expected,” Waiters said. “I missed it one time and this happens. I’m not worrying about it. It was a big miscommunication. […] The story got blown out of proportion. I love my country and everything that goes into it.”

 

“I’m here to voice my opinion and let you know what really happened,” he said. “It has nothing to do with my religious beliefs. Nothing at all.”