Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, who has been subject to media scrutiny since speaking out about declining the coronavirus vaccine shot, told Fox News on Monday that whether someone gets the jab should be a personal decision, and that the media continues to mischaracterize people who don't follow the vaccine mandates.
Isaac, who previously made headlines in 2020 for being the first NBA player not to protest during the national anthem, told "Fox News Primetime" that he believes the vaccine is not the correct medical decision for him – but underlined that he is not taking a position against the vaccine itself:
"A lot went into my decision for not deciding to get the vaccine. For starters, I have had COVID in the past. I understand our reactions as to immunity natural infection is robust and long-lasting," he said. "[W]ith my current physical fitness level and my age group I don’t feel I’m in a category of fear or of necessarily needing right now to get the vaccine."
Isaac, 24, lamented the "vitriol" being directed at people on various sides of the vaccine debate, and the fact people are losing their jobs for refusing the shot -- calling out the media and others for making the medical procedure political.
"I feel there is a blatant miscarriage of information by the media has turned this thing so sour and it’s been politicized and I see people and I’m standing with people who are deciding not to get it on the backs of freedom," he said, adding that the United States was founded on religious freedom and that Americans should be able to claim deeply held religious or other exemptions to the vaccine mandates.
Fox News host Will Cain noted that some of Isaac's remarks echoed fellow NBA star, Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, who said during a press conference that the vaccine is being pushed so hard, it erodes the definition of being in "the land of the free"
"You're not giving anyone freedom, because you're making people do something, essentially," Green said earlier this month.
On Fox News, Isaac added that his teammates and Magic management have been very accepting of his stance, and that much of the regulations he now has to abide by are coming from the league in New York.
Isaac said that he will soon be ineligible to dine with teammates and potentially not be able to leave a team hotel except for essential and official team activities. Isaac reiterated that he is not arguing against the vaccines as an option for Americans but instead that they be given the option to decline, whether it be for religious or medical or other reasons.
He added that the mainstream media has "lied" about him and took to the defense of national radio host Joe Rogan – who recently confronted CNN's Sanjay Gupta about his network falsely accusing him of taking "horse dewormer" when he spoke about taking the anti-malarial drug ivermectin.
"It’s not that people should not get the vaccine, that’s not the argument. It’s that for me there aren’t scientific legal or to me moral grounds for the vaccine mandate. I think when you have take into account the nature of COVID and the nature of the vaccine that doesn’t stop infection or transmission, the nature of natural immunity that hasn’t been talked about and then obviously the polarization by the media that has created such distrust," Isaac said.
"If this thing is just about protecting people and protecting the public health, why does CNN have to lie about Joe Rogan taking horse dewormer or why does the Rolling Stone have to willfully misrepresent my position on vaccine or COVID?
The magazine recently accused Isaac of being "anti-vaccine" – and reporting that he came to his conclusions by watching Donald Trump press conferences and studying Black history.
In responding remarks earlier this month, Isaac dismissed the reports, adding that journalism "is dying" in many quarters, while elsewhere, serious journalists do hard work every day.
Isaac told Cain that if he were in the position of his NBA colleague Kyrie Irving – a Brooklyn Nets player who will be banned from team activities because of New York City's mandates – he would take the same stance.
Cain noted that Irving stands to lose as much as $15 million.
"I think I would be doing the exact same thing that Kyrie is doing. I think what he is understanding and what he is portraying is that the principle of people’s freedom, the principle of living in this country and caring about the person next to you, whether they lose their job or not over something, to me that is nuanced and not black and white issue. To me that is a hill is he willing to die on," Isaac said.