NBA player to speak at National Conservatism Conference

Orlando Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac, who is one of a handful of NBA players who have spoken out against vaccine mandates, will speak at the National Conservatism Conference on Tuesday evening.

The 24-year-old “has become an outspoken voice for individual choice as well as standing up for what you believe in,” Yoram Hazony, chairman of the hosting Edmund Burke Foundation, said in a statement.  

“He is a welcome voice in this new movement.”

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Isaac, who is recovering from a torn ACL and meniscus and hasn’t played since the 2019-20 season, made headlines at the end of the September when he espoused his views in a team press conference.

“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,” he said at the time. 

“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 continued.

The NBA required all arena staff and referees to be vaccinated prior to the beginning of the season, though players were excluded due to pushback from the NBA Players Association.

That said, the league is enforcing mandates that have been put in place by cities, specifically, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Unvaccinated players who are forced to sit out because of local COVID-19 vaccine mandates will not get paid for those games missed.

The most notable example of this is Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who remains unvaccinated and is currently suspended from the team until he complies with the city of New York’s policy.

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Irving will lose approximately $300,000 for every home game he misses.

Golden State Warriors small forward Andrew Wiggins initially lamented the league’s policy, though received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the beginning of October to avoid having to sit out.

At least 95 percent of NBA players are fully vaccinated.

Multiple NBA legends have come out in support of the league’s stance regarding vaccine mandates.

“I am total in unison with the league,” Michael Jordan said. “Everybody's been speaking about the vaccinations, and I'm a firm believer in science, and I'm going to stick with that."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar added: “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research.”