Since the days when I could piece together thoughts and memories, I’ve been an Orlando Magic fan. I was 8 years old the first time I went to a Magic game. It was Game 3 and Game 4 of that first round series against the Miami Heat. Penny Hardaway will forever be my basketball idol.
Chip Caray, Goose Givens, David Steele, Matt Guokas, Jeff Turner, Dennis Neumann, and Richie Adubato may as well all be considered relatives if I were to think how many hours and days of my life I’ve watched and listened as they called Magic games over the decades.
Between the ages of 11 and 23, I off-and-on assisted my family to park cars on properties we owned near both the old O-rena and the Amway Center for Magic games. I remember that first winter, surprisingly chilly for Florida weather stands. In between monitoring vehicles, I’d hop into my dad’s old Chevy Blazer and tune into the radio play-by-play as much as possible. Dennis Neumann never fails to entertain by masterfully calling contests.
Through that parking business though, I was able to net some pretty sweet free tickets to games here and there. In the middle of those years, I can’t calculate how much my father, uncle, and mother spoiled me with Magic tickets and merchandise. I have relationships and friendships that were created or made stronger because of the Magic. I attended more games during the infamous 2003-2004 debacle of a season than I ever care to admit.
I’ve seen some amazing things on that Orlando parquet floor in person from the stands: Penny, Darrell Armstrong’s steal and buzzer-beating game-winning lay-up, Tracy McGrady’s 62-point game, An enormous amount of Dwight Howard double-doubles, the first Magic playoff series win in a dozen years (2008), Hedo Turkoglu game-winners, Rashard Lewis game-winners. I’m leaving plenty out. I was in the Atlanta stands for Game 4 in 2010 when we swept the Hawks to cruise into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Game-winners, playoff victories, ridiculously outstanding crowd atmospheres, smashed clipboards, superb individual performances, thrown elbows, miracle moments, poetic team basketball, and a whole lot more.
Wanting to extend my Magic fandom to other levels, I started posting on fan forums. ESPN – before it sucked – while in high school, MagicMadness (R.I.P.) in college, and RealGM at and after my UCF days where I’ve spent way too much time perusing and posting. I never thought I’d go from sending Dante Marchitelli and George Galante questions during Summer League broadcasts they called to actually covering Summer Leagues and seeing those guys in person.
First person I ever interviewed as a media member was DeQuan Jones in the 2012 preseason campaign. There have been a lot of great dudes that I’ve had access to in that Magic locker room. Naming a few: J.J. Redick, Maurice Harkless, Kyle O’Quinn, Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, and more. Numerous unique characters. Many great one-liners.
I always told myself that the day blogging felt like a job or an obligation – more so than a fun hobby – then I would stop. Unfortunately, that time has arrived. It hit me a few days ago that I needed to adjust my personal priorities in order to improve my life. I have given a lot of time and resources to blogging and covering the Orlando Magic. I can’t do that any longer. And I try my best to never half-ass anything. If you want to succeed in this business, you have to be able to do it 24/7.
I’ve blogged for 4+ years at MBO, including almost 2 ½ as the site’s owner. I’ve blogged for about 8 years total if you include Orlando Magic Greek. I want to thank Brian Serra for reaching out to me to write for MBO back in 2012, and for handing the reins of the site over to me a few years after that. This site is Brian’s baby. The site is almost up to 2,000 posts. Over 1,200 of those are mine. I’ve dedicated a large portion of myself to this.
I’m a 28-year-old who for two years now has balanced a full-time HR career that I fully enjoy combined with the responsibilities of running a basketball website while trying to convey my Magic knowledge. People have all sorts of hobbies: cooking, building, alcoholism, running, gaming, etc. Mine was blogging. I also enjoy traveling, movies, and other things that blogging just took a lot of time from.
I’m in front of a laptop 40+ hours a week for my full-time career, and who knows how many extra hours per week in my personal time where the vast majority of that time is spent on MBO in some capacity. That’s not ideal. It’s only recently where I’ve realized I don’t like that my social and vacation schedule was always dependent on if there was a Magic game or event during that time.
I’ve entered my fifth season as a credentialed media member. You can count the amount of preseason and regular season games I missed on two hands be it due to vacation, work travel, or illness. It’s been a fun run. I’m forever grateful to the Magic’s Public Relations and Communications staff. They treated me with great respect and kindness from the beginning.
I’ve saved a lot of money by receiving free dinners and a free spot to sit and observe Magic contests. Either in the media loge, or on really lucky occasions when I would get to sit courtside on those baseline tables. I don’t have the bank account to sit that close. Only when my friends and I won the Magic Scavenger Hunt last year have I ever sat that close for a Magic contest as a non-media individual.
I’ve been able to interact with some great folks, many leaving an ever-lasting impact on me. Many who I know that when I run into them we’ll continue having engaging conversations.
I’m looking forward to being a full-on Magic fan again. I don’t have to quell my energy or enthusiasm for the team I love any longer, even if on rare occasion you could hear and see me bang the media loge table with my fist or drop an expletive when I knew a national media member wasn’t looking as I became unhappy about a play or referee’s decision.
There were times after games over these past few years where I’d walk into the locker room and be so dissatisfied with a Magic performance that I’d want to yell at players to check their hearts to see if they were still beating. That’s just the Greek fire in me. I’m not dumb, you obviously can’t do that and expect to be able to return ever again. That’s why there would be many games where I didn’t ask a single question to any player inside the locker room. I’d film the interviews and get out to post them. If you don’t have something nice to say/ask, it’s probably not wise to say/ask it.
I can’t wait to watch games again with friends and family without me having to constantly stare at my computer and/or phone. I’ll get to savor everything that made me adore this game and the franchise to begin with. It’ll be sweet hitting the road and watching the Magic play in other arenas again in my future vacations.
It was fun doing the Penny and Pops Podcast with my best friend, Spenser Strode. It really added extra excitement to the site. It’s cool to see listeners and Magic fans subscribing from places like: Malta, Taiwan, Micronesia, Australia, Korea, Sweden, Peru, Denmark, Hungary, Mexico, South Africa, Jamaica, Estonia, India, Pakistan, and many more. Fantastic.
Thank you to anyone that heard our voices or read any amount of MBO site posts. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the MBO site at this time. It might be transferred over, it may remain quiet until the domain expires. I tried to grow MBO as much as I could. I’m extremely proud of all that we’ve accomplished here, and how the site never ever got bogged down with too many advertisements and unwanted pop-ups. This was never about money. Whatever little revenue was made went right into paying for the site to continue running.
To the reigning Magic blogger row, good luck. Keep living the dream. I consider Philip Rossman-Reich (Orlando Magic Daily) and Zach Oliver (Orlando Pinstriped Post) friends. If you’re entering the realm of Magic blogging, those are two guys who can show you the ropes. If you’re looking for more of a traditional media route, there’s no one better than Josh Robbins (Orlando Sentinel). Josh always treated me as an equal even when his access and writing quality are far superior.
I may be ending my blogging, but you’ll still find me online. I’ll be tweeting, but obviously not as frequently as you’re used to. Heck, if I’m in a big venting mood and Twitter doesn’t have the character capacity to contain it, the RealGM Orlando Magic board may be seeing more of me. If anyone wants me to provide my verbal or written opinion on something, you know I’m always up for contributing.
The Magic’s win-loss record has nothing to do with this decision. Even if they were undefeated right now, I’d still be walking away. Even had the Magic made the playoffs last season, it would only have been a short-term delay of the inevitable. This day was going to come.
Will I have second thoughts or regrets? Probably. Especially when the Magic make the playoffs finally. I got in right when Dwight Howard left, and I’m leaving without covering a postseason. That’s okay though, that means I’ve improved this ’16-’17 Magic squad’s chances at finally getting the franchise back into the playoffs.
Playoffs. I’ll be fully enjoying that once those days return to O-Town, be it in the arena as a paid spectator, at my house, or out on the town soaking in the moment of potential championship glory.
Let’s Go Magic.
Adam Papageorgiou was Owner/Editor of MBO.
by: Brian Serra
The Magic finally broke Papageorgiou. He may not admit it, but I know it. This hobby that we called blogging is a tough gig. Anyone can open a free wordpress site, I did it, and write nonsense (I also did that). But not everyone can turn it into a credentialed, semi-respected site that could deliver not only behind the scenes locker room access but also capology breakdowns. Why the hell did I study the nuances of the CBA? Because it allowed the illusion of expertise. I found myself in the middle of the Dwight Howard trade saga and cultivating (and sometimes stumbling into) actual real life sources. I went from playing “media” to being the media. With that comes pressures that are taxing – especially on those working full-time jobs as Adam and I both were. It’s hard to explain the annoying level of stress that came from continuously telling people, “sorry… can’t do X with you because I have to write a recap of this 20-point Magic loss to the Bucks in the middle of February.” Today Adam is coming to the point I reached a few short years back – not so much a breaking point, but a self-actualization point. It was my very selfish dream that he would never get there and would continue rocking his blue-and-white-and-rose colored glasses for eternity. This site was indeed my baby and I knew Adam would treat it with the respect it deserved – and he did so with even more gusto than I ever expected. I thank him for continuing my “legacy” for as long as he could. He rocked it.
God Bless Adam Papageorgiou. God Bless Magic Basketball Online. And God Bless America.
The Orlando Magic are about as popular as burnt toast within their own Central Florida market currently. Casual sports fans just don’t seem to desire to watch or get invested in this franchise. It doesn’t help that we have so many transients in Orlando, many of whom either don’t care about sports or have allegiances elsewhere. Even locals and those who grew up in the area have a ‘meh’ mentality.
That just seems wrong considering the Magic are only seven years removed from their last NBA Finals appearance. It’s been a gloomy past 4 years in particular, and the fifth season of the Rob Hennigan GM era is off to a shaky 0-3 start.
That got me thinking after Wednesday’s opening night home contest at Amway Center: Can the franchise be doing more to inspire fans and non-fans to see their product, aside from just roster and personnel improvements?
After the national anthem and Pulse nightclub tributes during that home opener, player introductions were done. The Orlando Magic came out to their new video:
The Orlando Magic actually looked like a promising product on Saturday. Yes, Orlando lost 105-99 to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the Magic were finally in a close contest late with a chance to win for the first time under Frank Vogel’s reign.
Orlando was down by 22 points on a few occasions during the contest, but almost completed an amazing comeback by scoring 37 points in the 4th quarter. Some clutch J.R. Smith 3-pointers prevented that from happening.
Orlando shot 45.2 FG% including 8-of-28 on 3s (28.6 3PT%). The coaching staff will look at the 20 turnovers they coughed up along with the bad 15-of-26 free throw shooting. Orlando won the rebound battle, 50-40.
Evan Fournier led with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Serge Ibaka woke up and looked spry, notching 19 points and 7 rebounds. D.J. Augustin sparked the comeback with the bench, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the fourth period. DJ had a team-high plus-minus of +11. Nikola Vucevic contributed 11 points and 9 rebounds, but wasn’t on the floor in the final quarter. Elfrid Payton contributed 10 points, 5 assists, and 4 boards. Jeff Green only shot 2-of-9, but added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Cleveland shot 40.9 FG% including 11-of-37 on 3s (29.7 3PT%) as the Cavs went cold in the second half. LeBron James had 23 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds. Kyrie Irving chipped in with 20 points. Kevin Loved added nineteen. It was J.R. Smith that was the difference late as he had 16 points on 4-of-10 three-point shooting.
Below is the game recap.
The 2016-2017 campaign will be the last one that the Orlando Magic will have a relationship with their D-League affiliate the Erie BayHawks. The Magic will be announcing the location of their new D-League franchise soon. Only thing certain is their home base starting in the 2017-2018 season will be in Florida, either Lakeland or Kissimmee.
The BayHawks announced on Saturday the 9 players that will be present on the training camp roster as affiliate, returning players, and tryout invitees.
Branden Dawson, Cliff Alexander, and Ramon Galloway join the BayHawks as Magic affiliate players. Alex Davis and Aaron Bowen return after spending all of ’15-’16 with Erie. The open tryout invitees include Jordan Green, Terrence Jennings, Michael Lyons, and John Petrucelli.
The full training camp roster currently is below:
Frank Vogel is going to be a great coach for this franchise. It’s just too bad his reign as the 12th Head Coach in Orlando Magic team history is off to a very sluggish start. The 43-year-old is already the owner of a not-so-great record: Worst points differential 2 games into a Magic coaching career.
With the 12-point loss in the home opener against Miami, and the 26-point loss in Detroit, that puts this ’16-’17 Magic squad at a -38 point differential two games in.
That dethrones Johnny Davis. Davis took over for Doc Rivers after he got canned with a 1-10 record to begin the eye-gouging 2003-2004 season. After two games and losses in the head chair, Davis’ team was at a -37 point differential.
So it’s not just you if you feel like this Magic season has oddly gotten off to a disastrous 0-2 beginning.
Rewinding a bit, the 12-point opening defeat for the Frank Vogel era was almost the worst for a Magic head coaching debut. Doc Rivers’ 1999-2000 Heart ‘N Hustle group lost by 14 points in Charlotte to open that campaign. That’s the worst point differential so far for a new Orlando coach.
Looking ahead, the Magic are in Cleveland on Saturday. I’m going to be pretty honest, it would take a minor miracle to beat the defending champion Cavaliers. The Magic are staring at an 0-3 start. Others to begin their Magic coaching career with that record and the point differentials:
- 2003-2004: Johnny Davis at -48 point differential (was 0-9 before first coaching win)
- 2015-2016: Scott Skiles at -9 point differential (won fourth game)
That’s it. In Brian Hill’s second head coaching stint in the 2005-2006 regular season, the Magic were also 0-3. That point differential was -29 before that squad won their 1st game in their fourth contest of that campaign. B-Hill’s team lost that first contest on November 2, 2005 at home against the Indiana Pacers by 12 points, tying Vogel’s opening night defeat. But since we’re not talking about B-Hill’s first stint as coach, the ’05-’06 days can’t technically be counted in this discussion.
Here’s to this current Magic bunch getting out of this funk very fast.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
This is an awful first eight quarters to an Orlando Magic season. There’s no way of avoiding how terrible they’ve looked on both ends for extremely long stretches in contests. Detroit clobbered the Magic 108-82 at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night. The performance was way worse than the final score.
Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo were both horrendous, combining for just 6 points, 6 rebounds, and very little defense. Detroit shot 50.5 FG% in the contest. Stan Van Gundy’s former Magic men Tobias Harris, Ish Smith, and Beno Udrih all had fantastic performances. Harris had a game-high 18 points. Ish dropped 16 points and 8 assists. Udrih poured in 13 points off the bench. Andre Drummond had a bad 5-of-14 shooting game thanks to Nikola Vucevic‘s great defense, but still racked up 12 points and 20 rebounds.
Orlando shot 34.7 FG% including a rocky 8-of-26 on triples. Speaking of Vucevic, the Montenegrin only shot 3-of-12 because he’s still slumping with his jumper, but gave the effort and finished with 7 points and 14 rebounds. Elfrid Payton had another solid showing with 15 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Aaron Gordon notched 17 points and 7 rebounds. Jeff Green (10 points) and Mario Hezonja (13 points) scored in garbage time.
It was another beyond frustrating contest to watch as Frank Vogel has his hands full early this ’16-’17 season.
Magic lead assistant coach Chad Forcier at halftime: “Well, spoiler alert: We were not very good in the second quarter.”
Below is the game recap.
It’s tough to decide what postgame moment was indicative of the Orlando Magic’s rough evening against the Miami Heat. It’s either Mario Hezonja‘s disappointed look on his face as he drove out of the Amway Center parking garage in his nice white-and-black sports car, or scanning radio stations and landing on Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give Up’. It felt like a Rick Roll’d type of moment the way that game played out.
Let’s see if this defeat is a bad trend of things to come or a rare awful evening.
It doesn’t matter if nine of the fifteen members of the current 2016-2017 Orlando Magic roster weren’t part of the team 4 months ago, they needed to know about the sunshine state rivalry. Entering the season opener, Miami had won 15 of the previous 17 regular season meetings. On top of that, the Magic had not won a season opener since 2012, and a home opener since 2013.
Below is a color comparison of which franchise had the best regular season win-loss record, and deeper playoff runs in each season since Orlando came into the NBA a year after the Heat in the ’89-’90 campaign.
That’s a lot of red in recent years. I guess you’d be happy with that if this was an election chart and you were a Republican. Not so great if you’re a Magic fan. However, there was (and still may be) a feeling that a shift in the balance of Florida power was on the horizon. It didn’t occur on Wednesday night.
Orlando – despite seemingly everything lining up in their favor – managed to lose 108-96 in front of their Amway Center supporters. It was a baffling result as the Magic got out-hustled just about the entire evening. I’m not telling you to panic about the season, but this was an awful loss considering the scene.
Miami took control of the contest once they won the third period 30-16, and that was after the Magic were up 3 points at halftime. The Magic got bludgeoned in the paint. On top of giving up 74 points in the paint to the Heat, Orlando shot an awful 18-of-51 inside as well. Orlando got out-worked everywhere. Miami took rebounds 52-44, second chance points 23-18, and fast break points 15-8. The Magic shot 38.6 FG%. It’s extremely difficult to win a game that way if you’re Frank Vogel’s coaching staff.
The Magic just didn’t sync defensively, and their offense got bogged down too often. Miami had six players reach double figures. Hassan Whiteside led the way with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He had as many blocks as the entire Magic team. Whiteside’s impact was immense as usual. Goran Dragic chipped in with 16 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds.
Orlando got 20 points on 7-of-19 from Evan Fournier as well as 4 assists, 4 boards, and 2 steals. Nikola Vucevic was 7-of-14 from the field and had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists. Elfrid Payton tallied 16 points, 5 assists, and 4 boards. Serge Ibaka notched 14 points and 7 rebounds. Aaron Gordon rounded out the starting five with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. It’s a really frustrating loss that needs to be instantly forgotten.
We switch from Part I’s 2016-2017 Orlando Magic regular season preview over to predictions for the campaign! I’m Adam Papageorgiou, and here to make me look dumb with their superior prognostications are Brian Serra and Spenser Strode.
Who will be the team’s on-court MVP when the season is all said and done? Bonus Qs: Which player(s) lead the team in points per game, rebounds per game, and blocks per contest (just give me names for these 3)?
Spenser Strode: The team’s on-court MVP will be Serge Ibaka, I expect his overall stat-line to see modest bumps from last year, but he will be the team’s mental and emotional guidepost en route to a playoff appearance. Fournier leads the team in scoring, Ibaka leads the team in rebounding and Biyombo leads the team in blocks off the bench.
Adam Papageorgiou: I agree with your rpg (Serge), and bpg (Biz) selections, but I’m going with Nikola Vucevic taking the scoring crown for the pinstriped patrol. He’ll put those open jump-shooting misses from the preseason behind him and will put up a stellar offensively efficient season. I actually think Fournier will be the on-court MVP. He’s going to be asked to be a top-2 scorer on the squad while being solid enough defensively to not be pulled from the court by Vogel. The Frenchman will get the ball plenty in crunch time. I don’t think there’s anyone on the Magic that displays as much passion and scream power as he.
Brian Serra: When all is said and done, Rob Hennigan will be vindicated for making the Serge Ibaka trade – as he will be the on-court MVP for his versatility and leadership brought to the team. Serge’s scoring load should drastically increase based on his preseason (small) sample size and his defensive effort should be through the roof. Rob Hennigan will then immediately ruin all goodwill built up by signing Ibaka to a six-year max contract (new CBA!), which will surely and absolutely backfire.
PPG: Evan Fournier
RPG: Bismack Biyombo (will rack these up during his maniacal second unit minutes and late game situations)
BPG: Serge Ibaka
The Orlando Magic announced on Tuesday that they have exercised their 3rd-year team option on Mario Hezonja, as well as exercising 4th-year team options on Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. All three players are now signed through the 2017-2018 season. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but still important news.
The 21-year-old Gordon played in 78 games – starting 37 of them – last season with the Magic, averaging 9.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 1.6 apg. The 6’9″ forward will be making about $4.35 million in ’16-’17, and about $5.5 million in ’17-’18. Originally selected #4 in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Magic, Aaron has appeared in 125 career regular season games (45 starts) with averages of 7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 1.3 apg.
The 21-year-old Hezonja played in 79 games – starting 9 of them – in his rookie campaign, averaging 6.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, and 1.4 apg. The 6’8″ wing will be making about $3.9 million in ’16-’17, and about four million dollars in ’17-’18. Mario was chosen 5th overall in the 2015 Draft by the Magic.
The 22-year-old Payton played in 73 games – starting 69 of them – last season with the Magic, averaging 10.7 ppg, a team-high 6.4 apg, 3.6 rpg, and 1.2 spg. The 6’4″ point guard will be making about $2.6 million in ’16-’17, and about $3.3 million in ’17-’18. Originally selected 10th in the 2014 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, Payton was acquired that same evening by Orlando in exchange for Dario Saric, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd round pick. Elfrid has appeared in 155 career regular season games (132 starts), averaging 9.7 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.9 rpg, and 1.5 spg. EP was named to the 2014-2015 NBA All-Rookie First Team, and finished fourth in voting for Rookie of the Year.
No word yet on offseason acquisition C.J. Wilcox. The Magic have until October 31st to make a decision on his team option.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.