ESPN Radio show asks fans if Christian NBA player Jonathan Isaac's injury is 'funny'

ESPN Jemele Hill suspended
The ESPN logo is seen on an electronic display in Times Square in New York City, U.S., August 23, 2017. |

ESPN Radio host Dan Le Batard has apologized for a Twitter poll asking if the knee injury suffered Sunday by Christian NBA player Jonathan Isaac, who cited the Gospel last week for his unwillingness to kneel or wear a Black Lives Matter shirt, was “funny”. 

Isaac, a forward for the Orlando Magic, was the only player not to kneel for the national anthem during a game last week. On Friday, he referenced his faith and personal beliefs to answer criticism for not kneeling during the anthem. 

But on Sunday night during a game against Sacramento Kings, Isaac tore his anterior cruciate ligament on a drive to the basket. 

Le Batard, who hosts the nationally syndicated “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” and his co-hosts posted a poll on the social media platform Monday asking: “Is it funny the guy who refused to kneel immediately blew out his knee?” The poll was the latest in the series of unusual poll questions posed by the show. 

The poll drew the ire of some online who found the poll to be insensitive. 

On Monday, Le Batard apologized through Twitter and removed the poll. He also suggested that some may have taken the poll out of context.

According to Le Batard, the injury was the focus of on-air discussion on the national radio show. 

Although he said during that discussion that he did not find the injury funny, the majority of those who responded to the poll found the injury funny.

“We apologize for this poll question,” Le Batard wrote in a tweet. “I said on the front and back end of the on-air conversation that I didn’t think it was funny. Regardless of the context, we missed the mark. We took the tweet down when we realized our mistake in how we posed the question to the audience. -Dan.”

Isaac’s injury has been compared to that of Derrick Rose, whose MVP-level career was hindered from a torn ACL.

Isaac had just returned from a previous knee injury before suffering what Magic head coach Steve Clifford called a “crushing” injury.

Despite the poll numbers in Le Batard’s tweet and the subsequent disrespectful humor from other Twitter users, Isaac’s teammates have voiced nothing less than full support for and expressed disappointment about the injury.

“That was tough, man,” Magic teammate Aaron Gordon told The Orlando Sentinel. “That one instantly brought me to tears because I know how good of a guy JI [Isaac] is and how hard he works and how hard he has worked to get back since hurting himself.”

No Orlando Magic player or coach has publicly bashed Isaac for his decision not to kneel for the national anthem. 

On a larger scale, Isaac has not received public criticism from any active NBA player. Much of the criticism has come from the public and media outlets.

TNT basketball analyst and former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley said players should not be criticized for choosing not to kneel just before the NBA season restart tipped off on July 30. 

More recently, Kayte Christensen-Hunter, sideline reporter covering the Sacramento Kings, spoke out about the disrespectful comments about Isaac’s injury during Sunday’s game against the Kings.

“I’ve been getting a lot of tweets saying that this [injury] is karma, and that’s just a nasty way, that’s not what sports is about,” Christensen-Hunter said. “I implore you all to have some decency, that is disgusting to me. I hope to God Isaac can recover quickly and this isn’t as serious as it looks.”

Support for Isaac has seen tremendous growth since the NBA restarted. 

According to Fox News, jersey sales for Isaac have skyrocketed since the moment he chose not to kneel. The only player with more jerseys sold on the league’s website is all-star Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Isaac was a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA draft and attended Florida State University. He missed 31 games last year due to a knee injury, and will likely miss the remainder of this season to a new one.

"I don't think kneeling or putting on a T-shirt for me personally is the answer. … For me, black lives are supported through the gospel," Isaac said in a post-game interview last week. "All lives are supported through the Gospel."

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