My Farewell to MBO and Basketball Blogging

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.

Epilogue

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.