Magic’s Jonathan Isaac says even after suffering torn ACL inside bubble, he has ‘no regrets’ returning to play


Despite the initial concerns, the NBA’s bubble experiment inside Disney World was a resounding success overall. They managed to finish the season and crown a champion without a single person inside the bubble testing positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t perfect, however, and one of the biggest negatives were the numerous injuries players suffered, including in the Finals, where the Miami Heat were without Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo for much of that series. 

Perhaps the worst injury, though, happened much earlier in the process, during the seeding games in August. Early in the fourth quarter of the Orlando Magic’s matchup with the Sacramento Kings, promising young forward Jonathan Isaac suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus while driving to the basket. He’s expected to miss all of next season, regardless of when it actually starts. 

It was unfortunate no matter the circumstances, but there was a bit of controversy surrounding the incident considering Isaac had to be carted off the court with a serious knee injury just eight months prior to the restart. But despite another setback, and another grueling rehab process still to come, Isaac said in an interview with The Athletic on Monday that he has “no regrets” about returning to play in the bubble. 

“In retrospect, no, I don’t think I came back too soon,” Isaac said. “I really was ready to go. I didn’t have any doubts about where I was in terms of moving or playing. I mean, you can watch from the clips of when I was playing — I was fine. I was in great shape outside of just my wind getting back. But I was in great shape. I think I was jumping my highest that I’ve done so far in my career. So I have no regrets about coming back or the timing that I did. I trusted the staff, and we came to a decision: ‘I’m ready to play.’ It was my decision at the end of the day, and I went with it. And I’m glad I did.”

Isaac added that he might have a different opinion if he knew the injury was going to happen, but said even then, “it wouldn’t be an automatic one” because “with being in the bubble, I got the opportunity to stand for my faith. I got the opportunity to speak. I got the opportunity to be around my teammates again. And I wouldn’t give that stuff back.”

The fact that he suffered such a devastating injury obviously makes it easy to say the Magic should have held him out and prepared for next season. But, of course, hindsight is always 20/20. You don’t want to be overprotective, and if he was fully healthy at the time, it’s hard to say he shouldn’t be out there. 

In any case, there’s really no point in re-litigating the whole situation now. It was a truly bad bit of luck, but it’s encouraging to see that Isaac has been able to keep such a positive attitude. Hopefully when he returns he’ll be able to pick up where he left off, because he’s such a unique and fun player to watch, and an important part of Orlando’s future. 





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