Summer 2024

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac tears ACL, says God is in the hills and the valleys

Midway through the fourth quarter of the Orlando Magic’s 132-116 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, third-year forward Jonathan Isaac drove through the lane, hop-stepped and tore the ACL in his left knee.

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It was just his second game since Jan. 1, when he hyperextended his left knee was expected to miss the rest of the 2019-20 season. Instead, he missed only the next 31 games before the season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. Isaac scored 16 points in 16 minutes on Friday in the Magic’s first game since the restart, but will now miss the remainder of the season.

Isaac remained positive Monday morning, when he referenced 2 Kings 4 and 2 Corinthians 4 in a Twitter post: “Thank you for all of your prayers and concerns, I’m encouraged. Remember our God is not just a God of the hills but a God of the valleys!”

Isaac was taken off the court in a wheelchair as Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman walked beside him. Isaac’s teammates and opponents felt for him.

“That was tough, man,” teammate Aaron Gordon said. “That one brought me to tears, and instantly — just because I know how good of a guy J.I. is and how hard he works and how hard he has worked to get back since hurting himself in D.C. That was tough.”

“Just kind of telling him to stay up, stay positive,” said Kings center Harry Giles III, who tore both of his ACLs in high school and briefly spoke to Isaac after the injury. “I just hate to see that because it’s tough. I don’t really like speaking on that too much. It’s just unfortunate, man, because he’s been working and with the brace on. You hate to see him get hurt again.”

“My comeback will be greater than my setback,” Isaac concluded in his Twitter post. “I still stand in Jesus’ name!”

Leading up to Sunday’s game, Isaac received much backlash and praise for his decision to stand during the national anthem and not wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt prior to the team’s game against Brooklyn on Friday. He also stood during the anthem and donned Magic gear prior to Sunday’s game.

“Absolutely, I believe that Black lives matter,” the 22-year-old said Friday in response to a postgame question from the media. “A lot went into my decision and part of it is my thought that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don’t go hand in hand with supporting Black lives.”

Isaac, who has long shared about his faith in Christ publicly, referenced the Gospel numerous times during his session with the media. A follow-up question asked what he felt like religion had to do with kneeling for the anthem to protest against racism and police brutality.

“Honestly, I don’t really see it as religion for myself. I see it as a relationship with God, whose Son died for our sins. I don’t think that kneeling or putting on a T-shirt, for me personally, is the answer. I feel like, for me, Black lives are supported through the Gospel. All lives are supported through the Gospel,” he said.

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