11:58 p.m. ET
ORLANDO, Fla. — Magic ahead Jonathan Isaac stood on the scorer’s desk, had a short chat with coach Jamahl Mosley, and calmly eliminated his capturing jersey. He turned to the court docket, inserted his mouthpiece and stepped onto an NBA ground to play his first recreation in over 900 days.
The lengthy wait was over. As he checked into the sport between two free throws from Jayson Tatum, the sold-out crowd of 19,196 on the Amway Heart confirmed their appreciation with a rousing ovation.
Isaac, 25, had not performed an official NBA recreation since Aug. 2, 2020, when he tore the ACL in his left knee throughout a recreation within the Orlando bubble. He missed the entire 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and half of the 2022-23 season earlier than making his return in opposition to the Boston Celtics on Monday night time.
With a decent minute restrict, Isaac completed with 10 factors on 4-of-7 capturing in slightly below 10 minutes of motion because the Magic defeated the Celtics 113-98.
Isaac stated he had so much on his thoughts when he checked in. He additionally admitted that there have been instances when he didn’t know if that day would ever come, however he leaned on his religion in instances of doubt.
“There have been days after I was like, ‘I don’t know if I need to proceed,’” he stated. “However alternatively, I’ve to thank Christ. To have the ability to return to my religion and say that God has me on this journey for a goal. I do know I used to be made to play basketball. I used to be made to offer glory to God at this stage.”
Isaac was Orlando’s first sub of the night time, and he checked in alone – one thing Mosley did on goal so the group might take within the second.
Isaac’s first contact of the night got here not too lengthy after he checked in. When Orlando first got here down the court docket, Isaac discovered himself with the ball in his fingers.
He caught it alongside the baseline and tried to journey on Boston’s Jaylen Brown. Isaac stated he thought Brown would decide up an assault, however since he didn’t, it triggered Isaac to make a misstep when making an attempt to make a layup that didn’t come by.
The Magic’s ensuing offensive possession allowed Isaac to land the shot – a 13-foot shot straight over Brown.
“Name out to Coach Moses that he designed one for me,” Isaac stated. “It was actually speculated to be a catch and a jumper, however they performed it properly and it was simply me and Jaylen. So I simply stated get some and I used to be in a position to obtain my turnaround. I actually like this shot. When he fell I simply stated, ‘Thanks.’ Simply get that out of the best way.”
Isaac’s first stint lasted slightly below 4.5 minutes. Except for the jumper over Brown, he added a layup however was solely 2 of 5 off the bottom.
He admitted fatigue was an issue early on.
“That type of wind came to visit me. Within the final minute I might hardly converse, I used to be respiration so closely,” Isaac stated. “However on the second rotation within the second half, these 4 minutes, I simply began to loosen up and simply really feel good.”
There was a notable distinction within the second half when Isaac returned. He made a pair of 3-pointers and grabbed two steals, together with one the place he dealt Paolo Banchero for a slam in his last recreation of the night time. He checked out without end at 2:08 within the third quarter.
“I believed he was nice,” Mosley stated. “I believed he did an amazing job enjoying with a sure degree of composure. I feel it was essential that he obtained the G-League time. Clearly there was a whole lot of emotion and rightly so . I believed it was nice how he dealt with himself.”
Mosley and Isaac shared a second earlier than the sport. Mosley took a seat on the finish of Magic’s bench and referred to as Isaac over as he left the seat. The 2 had a short dialog, throughout which Mosley expressed how joyful he was to see Isaac once more.
Previous to his two video games within the Orlando bubble, Isaac had not performed since January 1, 2020 when he sprained the identical left knee. His final recreation on the Amway Heart was December 30, 2019 when he contributed 13 factors, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and a pair of blocks in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The one Magic teammates left on the crew who participated on this recreation had been Markelle Fultz, Terrence Ross, and Mo Bamba. Neither Ross nor Bamba noticed minutes in opposition to Boston on Monday.
“This night time might have gone so some ways, and for the way it went, I recognize him for it. So there’s a peace, a reduction, so let’s transfer on.” Jonathan Isaak
Cole Anthony, who spent a while with Isaac on the ground Monday, stated he was very joyful to see Isaac again on the ground after watching him play from the sidelines throughout his first 2½ seasons with the crew needed to watch.
“Being out for therefore lengthy can positively be irritating and I do know he most likely felt like he might have come again sooner,” Anthony stated. “However he simply gave nice help to the crew as an entire. He watches all our video games, solely beats us after we play properly. He hits me after I play badly to cheer me up. Simply an general nice locker room man and a pleasure to have as a teammate.”
Anthony stated he’s performed with Isaac Pickup earlier than, so it was good to really share an NBA court docket with him.
Magic sophomore Franz Wagner has his locker subsequent to Isaac’s and is aware of how a lot Monday night time meant to his teammate. He was additionally excited to see what a wholesome Isaac might do for the younger Magic crew’s future.
“I feel even with out a few of the guys, we discovered a few of our id,” Wagner informed ESPN. “I feel our aim for the season needs to be to maintain engaged on it. We have now new rotations, we have to determine all this out. However we now have a lot expertise and a lot dimension in each place.
“However most significantly, we simply have nice guys. Everybody cares about the appropriate issues. You noticed that right now when [Isaac] subbed in. All of us need the following one to achieve success.”
When Isaac lastly checked out of the sport within the third quarter, he briefly disappeared from the bench. When he got here again, he took a seat on the bench and continued to cheer on his teammates.
When the night time was over, his teammates doused him with water.
“Reduction and peace,” Isaac stated when requested how he felt about his time on the pitch. “Peace like ‘God, you bought me.’ I recognize that. He’s actually devoted. I simply need to thank him. As a result of that night time might have gone so some ways and it went the best way it did, I recognize him for it. So there’s a peace, a reduction, so let’s transfer on.”