Words: Juan Martinez
Every year around NBA Draft time, talk about the past always creeps up among the talking heads both in the mainstream media and on social media. It could be players that aren’t living up to their potential despite being a lottery pick or it could be those that slipped through the cracks and are now stars today.
With all the hype surrounding the top two picks in this past June’s draft, there are handful of players that have the potential to fall in the latter category in a few years. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Orlando Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac could be one of those names that give GMs pause and wonder why five teams passed him up.
With a versatile game that’s built for today’s NBA and an infectious enthusiasm that comes with being a rookie, Isaac will have the chance to grow and develop under Magic coach Frank Vogel and young vets like Aaron Gordon. On his downtime, however, Isaac will also have the chance to hone his Call of Duty skills against his friends and fans on social media. We had a chance to talk with Isaac about CoD, the upcoming WWII that’s dropping November 3, his thoughts on the upcoming NBA season, and of course, sneakers.
On how he got hooked on Call of Duty:
It all started my first time playing AAU basketball… I want to say sixth grade, seventh grade, something like that… One of my teammates I spent the night at his house a lot because his dad was the coach so we would leave from his house and he was a huge Call of Duty fan and I had no idea what it was. So we started playing and we would kill me over and over again; he show me no mercy. So I got better and better and better and now I can beat him so it’s kind of funny now that I’m better than him.
Yeah, I just fell in love with it in Modern Warfare 2, that’s been my favorite game throughout all the games that come out. Just because it’s the perfect balance…
On CoD going back to its roots with WWII:
That’s what’s so dope about it. For me personally, I don’t know what really went down in World War II, so to be able to go back and really understand they really put a lot into being authentic to what it was, like the Beaches of Normandy and other stuff. When I went to the suite (Activision had a suite set up during the NBA Draft so players could check out the game), the developers actually told me that they actually went to those places and took photographs and put a lot of work into it and making it genuine.
On the gameplay changes from previous CoD games:
I think the first thing people are going to notice is the vibe. They really stress brotherhood, where your teammates are just as important as yourself. You need your teammates to win, you need to protect them. That’s taking it back as well, it’s not just about you.
Another thing people are going to be surprised with is the perk package. You don’t just pick your perks, it’s based off what kind of player you are and kind of player you want to be.
On how his game evolved from playing as a wing to more of an all-everything type:
Oh, yeah, (my growth spurt from 6’6” to 6’11”) is what I credit it to. I’ve just had to change my game as I’ve gotten older and added different things. First I had the ball-handling skills and I was able to shoot it. As I grew, I spent more time in the paint, doing different things… Definitely getting taller helped my versatility.
On things that have surprised him since turning pro:
You’re kind of on your own in a sense. You have your teammates, you have your coaches, but at the same time, you’re a grown man, and you’re just living and adjusting. So the biggest thing for me is coping with everything and how to balance my life out. Because in college it was balanced for you, now it’s when do I need to eat, when do I need to sleep. It’s about balancing life.
And the second part is just guarding these dudes, man (laughs). You don’t get much of a heads-up. This first game I was guarding Harrison Barnes. You’re not really given much, you want to (guard him a certain way), you want to chase him off screens and you just out there, guarding Harrison Barnes. And then the next night on a back to back, I’m guarding LaMarcus Aldridge. And he’s big, and it’s the same thing, try to force him (to a spot in the post), and just play defense.
On wearing the Nike Kyrie 3 on the court:
First off, I’m a big fan of Kyrie as a person and as a player. Second, me and him share the same agent so we’ve met, we’ve talked, we’ve had dinner and all of that stuff and he asked me if I wanted to wear his shoes this season. He would help come up with some colorways that match the Magic uniform. And I just love the way Kyries feel, I wore them in college a little bit and I just love the shoe. It makes it a little better that I know the person and have that connection.
It’s crazy, man. To me, I break it down to just being a blessing and a dream come true. To get to where I’m at right now and to have the people around me that I have, people like Kyrie, my agents and all that stuff. It’s amazing the connection that I’ve made.
On other Nike kicks that he loved growing up:
I’ve always been a big fan of Kobes. Lately though, they’ve been putting that thick sole in the shoe and I can’t fit my insoles in them so I haven’t been wearing Kobes that much. I wore KDs for much of my college season, he’s been my favorite player for the longest time. I love all the Nike shoes, I’ve been wearing them my entire life.
On what his favorite Kobes were (because we’re Team Mamba here at KoF):
Ah, man. I can’t even remember… it was the uh…. I don’t remember the name, but I have this image in my head and they almost look like Hyperdunks (note: it’s unclear if he means the original Hyperdunks or the most recent Flyknit versions). I never owned a pair of those but I always admire how they looked on feet.