Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Jonathan Isaac helping Orlando Magic into playoff contention while also being bold for Christ

With 14 games left in its 2018-19 NBA season, the Orlando Magic sit just one game out of the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is 31-37, a game behind Miami (31-35) and a half game ahead of Charlotte (30-37). Should the Magic — which was 11 games under .500 on Jan. 29 — make the postseason, it would be the team’s first appearance since 2011-12, when it earned the East’s No. 6 seed.

A big reason for the surge into playoff contention has been second-year forward Jonathan Isaac. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Florida State, Isaac played only 27 games his rookie season as he dealt with ankle injuries. This season, he’s missed only six games and he’s developed into a reliable starter. Isaac has started 51 of the 62 games he’s played (through Sunday), and he’s fifth on the team in minutes played (26.6 mpg). At 21 years old, he’s the youngest on his squad but sixth in scoring (9.5 ppg), third in rebounding (5.4) and second in blocks (1.2).

According to the Magic’s team site, Isaac was averaging 13.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots over the previous 10 games entering Sunday. He put in work all summer to get healthy and strong for this season, and he began wearing ankle braces made popular by Steph Curry.

“In this league, there are so many great players and to even be average in this league you have to have a level of professionalism and hunger to be the best,” Isaac said. “That’s what I want to be about. I want to be a guy who works each and every day, especially in the summer like guys before me have. I’ll continue to do that this (upcoming) summer and see where it goes from there.”

Isaac is not only an up-and-coming player, he’s also one of the NBA’s leading evangelists. Isaac was a featured guest on Friday for the Magic’s annual Faith and Family Night, as he shared about how his faith has impacted his life. It’s just the latest public speaking opportunity for Isaac, who has preached a couple sermons at his church, first in February and then again in September:

Also in September 2018, Isaac shared on the Sports Spectrum Podcast how he came to know the Lord after being convicted in a chapel service by the verse Luke 6:46, which says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

“It was one of those moments where you just like get punched in the gut by the Word and it happens to me all the time,” Isaac said. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s me. This is exactly what I do.’ I say, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but I don’t live it. I don’t know it. It was almost like a fork in the road for me, like I’m either going to drop this whole thing and just do me, or I’m going to seek it out and try to figure out what it really is. And I had that time period of just seeking, and I’ve seen Jesus keep His promise. In seeking Him I found Him, and I’m not looking back.”

Isaac and the Magic return to the court Wednesday against Washington, which is just 2.5 games behind Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings.

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