By John Denton
July 11, 2017
ORLANDO – One quick glance at 19-year-old Orlando Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac and your eyes immediately affix on those spindly, Stretch Armstrong-like arms and legs.
Next, curiosity leads you to wonder about Isaac’s whimsical and unruly hairstyle – a spiky, high-rising ‘do that makes him seem even taller than his towering 6-foot-10 ½-inch frame. That approximately six inches of hair atop Isaac’s head tells something of a story about a confident teenager who is completely comfortable in his own skin despite being a newcomer to the NBA.
A few questions in about his distinctive hairstyle and Isaac has an admission: Much like his game, the height of the hair will likely continue to rise in years to come.
“It’s just my hairstyle and it’s what I feel that I look the best with wearing,’’ said Isaac, while flashing a wide, toothy smile. “I like the curls and I kind of want it longer. I’d like to be as long as possible.’’
Isaac, the No. 6 pick in the June 22nd NBA Draft, had a hair-raising debut in last week’s Mountain Dew Pro Summer League before a mild left hip strain cut his time on the floor short. In three games, he averaged 10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game while showing the fluidity, instincts and basketball smarts that the Magic were hoping to see. The confident and composed debut left those with the Magic excited about the future of a player who won’t turn 20 years old for another three months.
“I’m ecstatic about what the next couple of years of working with Jonathan Isaac is going to look like,’’ Magic head coach Frank Vogel admitted at the conclusion of summer league play. “He’s got an impressive way about him, a great spirit about him, he’s very eager and humble and he’s got ability. When you have a guy like that who has all of that you’ve got something to be really excited about.’’
Isaac’s short time in Orlando has allowed him to meet and interact with several of the Magic’s players. He’s gotten up shots with guard Terrence Ross and traded text messages with Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. And he had a brief meet-and-greet with point guard Elfrid Payton, formerly the Magic player with the most distinctive hairstyle.
Payton’s floppy, spiky hairstyle – one that now bends backward as he streaks up the floor because of its expansive length – began when he was a senior in high school in Louisiana. All his teammates agreed to not cut their hair until they lost a game. They made it all the way to the state semifinals before dropping a game, resulting in some shaggy hairstyles.
Payton ended up liking the way his longer hair looked and he hasn’t fully cut it since, wearing the hairstyle during his three years at Louisiana-Lafayette and in his three seasons with the Magic.
When Payton and Isaac met for the first time, their conversation naturally turned to … hair. Isaac said he actually can’t remember the last time he’s had a full-blown haircut, saying it’s been at least 3 ½ years since he’s had the hair on the top of his head trimmed.
“His hair is really nice,’’ Isaac said of Payton’s preference. “I actually like his hair more than I do mine. I’ve gotten to sit down and talk to him a little. I can’t wait to get to know him better and talk to everyone on the team more.’’
Another thing that Isaac can’t wait to do is get out and enjoy some of the fun that Orlando and Central Florida has to offer. Again, like with the surprising and distinctive hairstyle, Isaac’s choice in entertainment might surprise some. Instead of roller coasters, water rides and mythical worlds, he’d prefer to see musicals and plays.
Clearly, Isaac marches to his own beat and has a style all his own – both with his hair and his choices in entertainment.
“I haven’t been to any of the theme parks yet, but I actually can’t wait to get into the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center and watch some musicals and plays. I can’t wait for that,’’ he said excitedly. “I’ve seen Hamilton. When I was in New York for the draft, I went and watched it. I’m just excited to get to learn more about the rest of Orlando.’’
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