Midway through the first quarter of the Orlando Magic’s 113-98 Monday home win over the Boston Celtics, Jonathan Isaac started to take a walk up the sidelines.
A moment that was more than 2½ years in the making. One he worried wouldn’t happen.
With a little over seven minutes remaining in the opening period, Isaac casually walked from the Magic’s bench toward the scorer’s table.
The closer Isaac got to the table, the louder the cheers grew from the sellout crowd of 19,196 inside Amway Center.
Coach Jamahl Mosley and Isaac shared a brief conversation near the table right before Isaac took off his shooting shirt.
As Isaac turned to the Rich and Helen DeVos Court while putting in his mouthpiece, he subbed in for Franz Wagner while Jayson Tatum was at the free throw line for his first NBA game in 904 days.
“Honestly, just everything,” Isaac responded when asked what was going through his mind as he was checking in. “It’s been such a long road. Thinking about all that it has taken to get here. The good days, the bad days, the ups and downs. All of the people that were part of getting me back. The training staff. We call them the purple-people eaters, but our players’ coaches who worked with me tirelessly. [Assistant coach] Nate Tibbetts.
“My family, my church family, my faith that I’ve been able and fortunate enough to lean on this entire time. All of that. The adrenaline, everything that’s going on. Much love to the Magic for sticking with me and the Magic fans were excited. Just trying to bottle all that up in one moment, it was surreal.”
Isaac’s return was his first NBA game since Aug. 2, 2020, when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the NBA “bubble” at Disney World.
He missed the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and more than half of this one.
Isaac played three games with the organization’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, in the previous two weeks.
He admitted there were moments throughout the journey he doubted if he’d return.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t,” Isaac said. “It’s a part of it, coming back from an injury like this and taking as long as it did. There were days [when] I was like ‘I don’t know if I want to keep going.’ Then again, I have to thank Christ. Being able to go back to my faith and say ‘God has me on this journey for a purpose.’”
Isaac wasted little time making his presence felt on both ends of the floor.
His first possession back, Isaac caught the ball in the right corner and drove past Tatum to get into the paint but missed the layup over Jaylen Brown, saying he thought Brown was going to take a charge.
Isaac didn’t need much more time for redemption, making a 12-foot turnaround jumper over Brown on the next possession for his first points as part of his first-quarter playing time of 4:25.
“Shout out to …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment