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Home » Isaac Reaches Double Figures in Return After Two and a Half Year Absence

Isaac Reaches Double Figures in Return After Two and a Half Year Absence

24 January 2023, Tuesday
Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic, who had been out of action for over 900 days, rejoined the court to the sounds of a huge applause from the 19,196 in attendance at the Amway Center. He was welcomed back as he met Jamie Mosley by the scorer's table and then made his way onto the court with a mouthguard in place. Upon his entry, his shooting shirt was taken off, and Jayson Tatum made a couple of free throws. There was a great celebration as Isaac came back to the game.

Isaac, aged 25, had not played in a genuine NBA match since 2nd August 2020, when he ruptured the ACL in his left knee during a competition in the Orlando bubble. He passed up throughout the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and half of the 2022-23 season prior to coming back on Monday night against the Boston Celtics.

With a tight time frame on his minutes, Isaac recorded 10 points on 4 of 7 shots in about ten minutes of time as the Magic crushed the Celtics 113-98.

Isaac expressed that there was a great deal passing through his mind when he was entering the game. He likewise conceded that there were occasions when he didn't know whether this day would ever come, yet leaned on his confidence in difficult stretches.

Isaac was the first player to come off the bench for Orlando that night, a moment made even more special by Coach Mosley's decision to have him check in alone. Not long after he did, Isaac had the ball in his hands, his first touch since entering the game. Reflecting on his journey to this moment, Isaac said, "There were days I didn't think I wanted to keep going, but then I remembered that God put me on this path for a purpose. I was meant to play basketball and to show my faith on this stage."

Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic was driving baseline against Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics when he tried to layup the ball, but misstepped. Coach Mose called a play, which Isaac was able to execute, and he sunk a 13-footer right over Brown, much to his delight. “Shout out to Coach Mose for drawing up the play for me,” Isaac said. “I thought Jaylen was going to take a charge, but I just said 'get something' and was able to turn it into my shot. When it dropped, I said 'Thank you,' just getting that out the way!”

Isaac's initial period of play lasted nearly four and a half minutes. Other than the jump ball over Brown, he also had a layup, although he was 2-of-5 from the field.

He admitted that he struggled with exhaustion early on.

"I was really out of breath during that last minute in my first stint," stated Isaac. "But toward the end of the second half, when I had the four minutes to play, I felt a lot better and was much more relaxed."

There was an obvious shift in the second half when Isaac rejoined the game. He quickly hit two 3-pointers and snatched two steals, one resulting in a slam from teammate Paolo Banchero. He was promptly pulled from the game with two minutes and eight seconds left in the third quarter. Mosley had only positive feedback for Isaac, stating his belief that the G League experience had served him well, as he had displayed a great amount of poise throughout his return.

Mosley and Isaac had a moment to themselves prior to the game starting. Sitting at the end of the Magic's bench, Mosley called Isaac to him and expressed his joy at seeing Isaac back on the court after almost a year away. It was Isaac's first time playing at the Amway Center since Dec. 30, 2019, when he posted 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a loss to Atlanta. Markelle Fultz, Terrence Ross and Mo Bamba were the only Magic players who had played in that game but were still on the team come Monday night's game against the Celtics.

"This evening had the potential to unfold in any number of ways, and I am grateful that it happened the way it did. There's a sense of serenity and ease in the air, so let's keep going."

Anthony was delighted to witness Isaac's return to the game on Monday, having watched him be on the sidelines for 2½ seasons with the team. He commented on Isaac's motivation throughout, saying "Being out that long, it can definitely be frustrating, and I know he probably felt like he could've come back sooner. But he's been incredibly supportive of the team, watching all our games, congratulating us when we play well, and cheering me up when I've been off my game. He's a great guy and a great teammate to have."

Anthony said it was a pleasure to be on the same NBA court as Isaac, whom he had played some pickup ball with before. Magic forward Franz Wagner, whose locker is next to Isaac's, is well aware of how important the night was for his teammate and looks forward to what Isaac can bring to the young Magic team once he is back to full health.

"I believe that even without certain people, we managed to find our identity," Wagner declared to ESPN. "So, we ought to keep on striving to improve that. There are new players and we need to familiarise ourselves with them. But, we have plenty of talent and size in each position. Most importantly, we have great people in our group. They all want the best for each other; that was evident today when Isaac came off the court.

Once Isaac finished playing for the evening, he left the team bench for a short time. When he returned, he rejoined his teammates and continued to support them from the sidelines."

When the night was complete, his teammates ceremoniously drenched him with water. "A feeling of relief and peace," Isaac commented when asked how he was feeling after his time on the court. "Peace like, 'God, you got me.' I'm sincerely thankful. I am so grateful that He is faithful. I'm humbled. This night could've gone many different ways, and I'm so thankful that it ended up the way it did. Let's keep this going."
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