The Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac defended his decision not to get the COVID-19 jab on Monday night as a freedom that should be afforded to everyone.
“I thank God, I’m grateful that I live in a society where vaccines are possible and we can protect ourselves and have the means to protect ourselves in the first place. But with that being said, it is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice and completely up to them without the bullying, without being pressured, or without being forced into doing so,” Isaac said.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time,” he continued. “I think that we’re all different, we all come from different places, we’ve all had different experiences and hold dear to different beliefs, and what it is that you do with your body when it comes to putting medicine in there should be your choice, free of the ridicule and the opinion of others.”
Rolling Stone published an article over the weekend targeting Isaac and other unvaccinated NBA players for “Trying to Push Around the League,” but the forward said the media outlet “badly misrepresented” him and his intentions.
“Because of that, I can understand anyone who may say they don’t transparently or overtly trust the media,” Isaac said, directing reporters to a “frustrated tweet” he posted eviscerating the “misrepresentation.”
“I would say that I appreciate every single one of you, those that try their best to correctly share the thoughts, the ideas, and the heart of the people that they’re asking questions of. I’m not anti-vax. I’m not anti-medicine I’m not anti-science. I didn’t come to my current vaccination status by studying black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences. I have nothing but the utmost respect for every health care worker and person in Orlando and all across the world that have worked tirelessly to keep us safe,” Isaac said.
Isaac, who gained media attention last year for refusing to kneel during the national anthem and wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, said his personal decision to skip getting the COVID-19 shot was based on the fact that he has had the virus before.
“Our understanding of antibodies, of natural immunity, has changed a great deal from the onset of the pandemic and is still evolving,” Isaac noted. “I understand that the vaccine would help if you catch COVID and you’ll be able to have less symptoms from contracting it, but with me having COVID in the past and having antibodies, with my current age group and physical fitness level, it’s not necessarily a fear of mine. Taking the vaccine, like I said, it would decrease my chances of having a severe reaction, but it does open it up to the, albeit rare chance of the possibility of having an adverse reaction to the vaccine itself.”
Isaac also noted that “you can still catch COVID with or with not having the vaccine.”
“I don’t feel that it is anyone’s reason to come out and say, ‘Well, this is why’ or ‘This is not why.’ It should just be their decision and, you know, loving your neighbor is not just loving those that agree with you or look like you or move in the same way that you do. It’s loving those who don’t,” the player said.
Isaac also added that he thinks “God calls us all to be wise” and that people’s faith can lead them in “two completely different directions.”
“I think there are people who, who believe that Jesus is alive, that he’s a protector, that he’s a healer, that he’s a friend, that you can trust him before you trust in any man, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m one of those people,” Isaac said. “But at the end of the day, God calls us to be wise and lean to our own convictions on what it is that we want to do, and that’s how I feel about the vaccine. Everyone should be free to make their own decision and choice.”
Isaac emphasized that he believes the NBA “is free” to make decisions about other COVID-19 restrictions but said he would become concerned about the logic behind those decisions.
“If the NBA is to give us regulations like we can’t maybe sit at the same part of the plane as the other players or eat in the same room as the other players, my only thought on that would be, I don’t think it would logically follow for us to then play on the court and share the same ball and bump chests and do all those things. So if the NBA is going to do those things, I would honor it, but at the same time I would ask like, it doesn’t seem logically consistent,” Isaac said.
The Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal also questioned why he should get the COVID-19 vaccine when people who get the shot can still catch the virus.
“Yeah, I had it but that doesn’t mean I can’t get it again,” Beal said. “I mean it’s no different than somebody with the vaccine. Like I can, yes I developed antibodies for it so my chances will be less likely now as well, right, but it’s still a possibility I may get it. Just like there are players and coaches and staff who are vaxxed missing camp right now because of it.”