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Jonathan Isaac Confident He Will Be Better and Stronger When He Returns

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - One of the main things we’ve learned about Jonathan Isaac through his first three years in the NBA is that he’s extremely resilient and strong-minded.

That was first noticed late in his rookie campaign after returning from a nagging right ankle injury. It was apparent, even in just limited minutes, that an early career setback wasn’t going to prevent him from making strides on the court. He showed flashes of why the Orlando Magic made him the No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

That determination and confidence carried over to the following season when he helped the Magic snap their playoff drought.

Fast forward to this past year and Isaac’s fortitude and spirit was on display again. The 6-foot-11, versatile forward, who was in the running for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award through the first two-and-a-half months of the 2019-20 season, injured his left knee on New Year’s Day against the Washington Wizards, sidelining him for Orlando’s last 31 games before the league temporarily halted the season due to the pandemic.

Motivated to return for the season restart at Walt Disney World, Isaac worked tirelessly day and night to get back to full strength, which he did as his stellar play early on at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex was one of the top storylines throughout the league. But just when it looked like he was about to establish himself as one of the NBA��s premier two-way players, another impediment occurred. While attempting to split two defenders with a jump stop in the lane against the Sacramento Kings, Isaac’s left knee buckled and he collapsed to the floor. Later, it was announced that he had torn his ACL.

Now, exactly three months since the injury occurred, the 23-year-old’s attitude hasn’t changed a bit. He is more confident than ever that he will overcome this latest setback and pick up right where he left off.

“It’s a mind thing. They say sports is ninety percent mental, ten percent physical – whatever percentage you want to give it but it’s more mental than physical – so my mind is still there in terms of how I was playing,” Isaac told reporters on a Zoom call on Monday morning. “My body just has to catch up now with this recent injury. I’ll get better. I’ll get back on the court. I’ll be expecting and knowing that I’m going to play better than I did when I left because my mind is continuing to get better off of it. That’s what it’s been my entire career so far. I have been out for quite a bit of time battling these injuries but every time I’ve come back, I’ve come back better. Not just because my body has gotten better, but because my mind is in a better place.”

Isaac has been off crutches for a couple weeks now and his doctors are telling him he is making outstanding progress, which is more good news as he inches toward getting back to basketball-related activities. Although not expected to play this upcoming season, regardless of when it starts and ends, there is utmost confidence from Magic front office executives that he will make a full recovery and continue to be a cornerstone piece on a promising Orlando squad.

Another great sign that he is feeling well, both physically and mentally, is that he will be participating in a peaceful prayer walk on Saturday, Nov. 7 in downtown Orlando. The march, hosted by Project Life and called “Hold Up the Lights,” will start at 6 p.m. at the Lake Eola Bandshell and all joining in will walk to the Dr. Phillips Center in what is being described as a powerful move of faith.

“It’s my faith in Christ. God has been so good to me,” Isaac said. I have no complaints about where I’m at right now. For me this is just another part of the journey. I wake up and I’m like, what do I have to do today and right now my focus is my knee, continue to work hard to get better. But I’m getting better in other areas. It’s not just about who I am on the court, but who I am off the court. That plays right into what this march is about. My life has been changed by Jesus Christ. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen people change and I believe that this is the answer that the world is seeking and that the world needs.”

Project Life, an Orlando-based organization dear to Isaac’s heart, helps individuals and communities around the globe develop their cultural assets and showcase their locally produced creativity.

A year ago, Isaac donated the $25,000 he earned from being named a co-winner of the Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award to Project Life. He has taken part in many Project Life events, including 2019’s Global Food Festival in Trinidad, which celebrated culture, heritage, diversity and unification while assisting those in need with food, clothes, children’s toys and other supplies.

“I am passionate about using my platform to create positive changes in the communities around me, but also the communities around the world,” Isaac wrote on his Project Life website bio.