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Let’s Talk Orlando Magic and the National Anthem

2016 September 26
by Adam Papageorgiou
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It’s going to come up.

Whether at Media Day, during training camp, before or after a preseason game, or in the regular season.

Someone will ask an Orlando Magic player, coach, and/or front office representative about their opinion on the national anthem protests – that first started over a month ago with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling – and whether they or other members of the franchise will take part in the non-violent movement that continues to gain the attention of the country and the world as touchy topics such as racism, oppression, killings, police brutality, and more are being pushed into the living rooms of millions of sports viewers.

I won’t be asking that question. Someone who can more eloquently pose the question can. If it happens though, then we can worry about asking the ‘why?’ and which player/coach said what once that time comes, but it’s naive to ignore the high probability that NBA players will be participating in some capacity. Especially since the NBA and the NBPA are working together to seek “positive changes” to promote societal improvement.

The NBA seems to have more players set on making their stance known more so than NFL players. And Charlotte knows, the NBA isn’t afraid to make a point when it comes to rights of all humans.

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Penny & Pops Podcast: The Start of Training Camp is Upon Us

2016 September 21


After a lengthy wait full of offseason change and potential upgrades, the 2016 Orlando Magic training camp is upon us.

We decide which of the recent 6 camp signings are most likely to make the regular season squad.

Las Vegas is begging Magic fans to steal its money as they put the over/under on Orlando ’16-’17 wins at 36.5 victories. The entire Southeast division appears to be up for grabs.

There’s potentially good news for Jodie Meeks and his surgically repaired foot. Shaquille O’Neal became the longest-tenured Magic player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nikola Vucevic‘s EuroBasket qualifying tournament was a success.

Plus, much more as our next episode will come after Orlando’s newest basketball gets introduced to the public.

Warning: Adult Language




Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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Vucevic Concludes Qualifying with 17 Points Against Georgia

2016 September 18

Sasa Matic/FIBA

Saturday provided a rematch between the top two squads in Group F of the 2017 EuroBasket qualifying tournament as Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic‘s Montenegro side hosted Zaza Pachulia‘s Georgia team in Bar at the Topolica Sports Hall.

The stakes were quite clear by the time both nations hit the court at 3 p.m. EST. Montenegro had already qualified for next year’s EuroBasket competition. Georgia had basically assured themselves a spot as well – as long as they didn’t lose by a lot of points, which was highly improbable – as they could have lost and claimed one of the four best 2nd place spots up for grabs.

Montenegro would finish undefeated and claim top spot in Group F had they won, or lost by no more than 2 points. If Georgia won the contest by 3 or more points, both teams would be 5-1 and Georgia would claim first in the group. The latter is what exactly happened. Georgia won 90-84 in what was another energetic finish to the contest.

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FOX Sports Florida Preps Magic Men for Upcoming Season

2016 September 17
by Adam Papageorgiou


It’s a surprise to no one, but FOX Sports Florida will once again be broadcasting all 82 regular season NBA games for the 2016-2017 Orlando Magic campaign. You can watch all of those contests on the FOX Sports GO app.

There will also be 2 of the seven preseason contests shown: the October 16th home game against the Atlanta Hawks, and the October 18th road contest at the Miami Heat.  I know, I too hate that we still have to rely on streams for exhibition games.



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Vucevic, Montenegro Beat Albania to Clinch 2017 EuroBasket Spot

2016 September 14
by Adam Papageorgiou

Courtesy of FIBA

Mission accomplished. Montenegro didn’t need Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic‘s best on Wednesday as they defeated winless Albania 94-56. Coach Bogdan Tanjevic’s squad has clinched their spot in next year’s 2017 EuroBasket tournament. It’ll be the third time ever that this little nation will be competing on such a large stage, and the first since 2013. Huge congratulations are in order for Nik and company.

Vucevic had probably his worst game statistically during this 5-0 stretch, but Albania was done after the first 10-minute period concluded. Nik finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and solid 5 assists on 4-of-12 shooting (1-of-3 on 3s) in about 22 minutes played. The 25-year-old center was a +28 on the floor.

Not only was the win over Albania a Montenegrin home game, it was a homecoming of sorts for ‘Vooch’ that this contest occurred in the cozy Topolica Sports Hall in Bar, Montenegro.



Montenegro was up 46-27 at the break as Nik had 7 points and 4 rebounds on 3-of-8 shooting (0-of-2 on 3s). The second half, Nik’s squad cruised. Albania shot a bad 37.5 FG% for the contest.

The EuroBasket 2017 group drawings will be held in Turkey on November 22nd.

Before that, there is still one more game remaining in qualifying. It’s an opportunity to finish undefeated in Group F, but to also prove to Zaza Pachulia and opponents Georgia that they’re for real. Georgia is still fighting for one of the best second-place records that would also grant them a ticket To EuroBasket. Zaza’s bunch has everything to play for.

Since this will be played in the same Topolica Sports Hall in Bar as this Albania victory, the motivation for Montenegro to perform at their best in front of home support should be there. We’ll see on Saturday.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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Shaq’s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction is also Orlando’s

2016 September 11


Even though Shaquille O’Neal only played 4 years out of a nearly two-decade NBA career with the Orlando Magic, the 7’1″ one-of-a-kind athlete and personality still has more career games with this franchise under his belt than any other Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer.

Prior to Shaq getting inducted over the weekend, Dominique Wilkins and Patrick Ewing were the only other Hall of Famers to have ever worn a Magic jersey and played a regular season game. In both cases, it didn’t go well.

A 39-year-old Wilkins played 27 games – started 2 contests – for the Magic in the ’98-’99 season and averaged a bad 5.0 ppg and 2.6 rpg on 37.9 FG% and 26.3 3PT% in about 9 minutes per contest. That’s far from the form that 7 times earned the Atlanta Hawks legend an All-NBA team nod. It was sad to see him struggle on the floor.

Wilkins would score 2 points in one playoff game in that series where the #3 seed Magic got bounced by Allen Iverson – also inducted into the Hall of Fame over the weekend – and the improving #6 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. ‘Nique never played for another NBA franchise again as Orlando transitioned from Chuck Daly as coach into full rebuild mode.

A 39-year-old Patrick Ewing was better in the 2001-2002 season. The New York Knicks legend – lumbering on those bad knees – averaged 6.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg on 44.4 FG% on 14 minutes per night in 65 games – started 4 contests – played under Doc Rivers‘ watch.

It didn’t work out in the playoffs for Ewing. 6.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg in 4 contests off the bench on a bad 32.0 FG% in almost 17 minutes per game. The #5 seed Magic got taken down 3-1 by the #4 seed Charlotte Hornets – led by Baron Davis – as Tracy McGrady had little to work with. A 33-year-old Darrell Armstrong was Orlando’s second-highest scorer. ‘Chewing’ also bowed out of the NBA for good after that.

Shaq is the first legitimate Magic on-court contributor to get into the HoF out of the three players who have done so now. I’ll be fascinated to see if/when guys like Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Vince Carter, and Ben Wallace get into Springfield, Massachusetts. But for now, it’s just 3 players in the HoF to have worn Magic jerseys.

Shaq is not only a legitimate contributor, he put the franchise on the map. There is now ‘Mount Rushmore of Magic players’ if you don’t start with O’Neal.

Since being selected 1st in the 1992 NBA Draft, Orlando in 4 years transformed from a place few would ever mention aside from golfing, retiring, and Disney World, to a professional sports town the world could not ignore.

In those 4 seasons, Shaq averaged 27.2 ppg (higher than the 27.0 ppg he averaged as a Laker), 12.5 rpg (higher than the 11.8 rpg he averaged as a Laker), and 2.8 bpg (higher than the 2.5 bpg he averaged as a Laker) in 295 games (293 starts).

From his first game to the last in pinstripes, you saw this 7’1″ giant run his own fast breaks like a point guard in one instant, and in another instant literally annihilate baskets and anyone that stood in his path. The man loved diving into the stands. Which other 7-footer could honestly say that? Shaq purposely would personally bond with fans by almost killing them trying to save a basketball…doing so with that huge unforgettable grin on his face.

Along the way came hairstyles, commercials, and movies (yes, those started before he left). The world could not contain him. He will forever be a once-in-a-lifetime player as well as entertainer. ‘Shaq’ is one of the most recognizable names for a single individual on this planet. People who never watch basketball know who he is. It’s why you still see his and other mid-’90s Magic gear being rocked in Asia and Europe. The influence can never be overstated.

Four All-Star selections (yes, even his rookie year). 1992-1993 Rookie of the Year. Three All-NBA team honors in an era where there were several epic big men. O’Neal also won the 1994-1995 scoring title.

Then there are the franchise records. 1st in blocks per game. 2nd in rebounding. 2nd in blocks. 2nd in points per game. 2nd in FG%. 3rd in field goals made. 3rd in total win shares. 3rd in free throws made. 5th in points. That’s in just four years on a franchise that’s now entering its 28th season.

The Magic franchise and Orlando fans themselves were royally spoiled, and no one realized it until it was too late. That’s what being the second-fastest NBA franchise ever to reach a Finals did to us.

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Fast Break Pass Options Return for ’16-’17 Magic Campaign

2016 September 11
by Adam Papageorgiou


For the third consecutive NBA season, the Orlando Magic ‘Fast Break Pass’ is back for Florida residents. If you’ve driven around town or scrolled through the internet, you may already have spotted advertisements for the 2016-2017 campaign deals.

As you’d expect, no paper tickets. All electronic. So make sure you have the Orlando Magic app downloaded on your smart phone.

Before you decide on buying a pass (or multiple ones for family/friends), I fully recommend you read the FAQs. If you’ve purchased in the past two season, the rules are basically the same. You still can only purchase 4 ticket passes per account because – for obvious reasons – it’s difficult to group more than a party of four together for most Magic games. The main thing to remember is you won’t know where you sit until 15 minutes prior to tip-off of each game.

There are currently two deals being promoted with more options possibly on the way. The first is the familiarly titled ‘Fall Fast Break Pass’ that gets you into all 4 home exhibition games at Amway Center, plus 10 regular season contests in October and November for a ridiculously cheap $59. That’s it. That includes opening night against the Miami Heat on October 26th.




It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in the highest row inside Amway Center or get into the lower bowl on occasion, that’s fantastic value.

The other pass option is the 2016-2017 season pass for $399. You get entry into all 4 preseason home games, as well as 37 out of the 41 home contests. For the diehard Central Florida residents that can go to every contest, this has your name on it.

The only 4 games that season pass does not include are: v. Golden State Warriors on January 22nd, v. New York Knicks on March 1st, v. Miami Heat on March 3rd, and the champion Cleveland Cavaliers’ only regular season visit to Orlando on March 11th. That’s probably because each of those contests should be sellouts.

Considering I fully believe the Magic should be a playoff team, either deal makes a lot of sense for local fans who don’t care about where they sit on a game-by-game basis. I can’t recall hearing or reading a legitimate negative review ever in regards to the fast break pass, and would be surprised if that starts now. There will hopefully be a lot of Magic home victories to savor this campaign.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Vucevic Carries Montenegro to Another Easy Qualifier Victory

2016 September 11
FIBA: Martin Havran

FIBA: Martin Havran

Montenegro and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic are now 4-0 in their six-game quest to qualify for next year’s EuroBasket competition, taking care of business on the road and dispatching of the Slovak Republic 99-62 on Saturday.

The picture basically captures what happened. ‘Vooch’ has that ‘welp, sorry we blew you out again’ face after the victory. The 25-year-old center was back to his efficient ways, tallying a game-high 17 points as well as 5 rebounds, and 1 steal on 7-of-9 shooting (3-of-3 on 3s!) in exactly 20 minutes of relaxing work.

Five Montenegrins in total scored in double figures, including Magic summer leaguer Danilo Nikolic dropping in 12 points. Three-pointers once again being the difference in this contest. Montenegro shot 14-of-35 from deep, while the Slovak Republic only managed 3-of-18. It was basically a repeat of their last meeting. Montenegro had a 14-5 steals advantage, taking full advantage of their opponent’s 26 turnovers. Montenegro never trailed.

So through the 4 contests as the team’s overall leading scorer, Vucevic is averaging a fantastic 16.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.5 apg on 51.9 FG% and 55.6 3PT% (5-of-9 on 3s). That’s all in just 20.8 minutes per contest in these 40-minute sessions as Nik has not been coaxed into playing large minutes. That should make the Magic coaching staff quite happy.

I’m also starting to think that Vucevic at power forward isn’t an absurd idea. He looks more mobile and may have trimmed down a bit. Although to be honest, it could just be the non-baggy Montenegro jerseys. He’s hit a few NBA-range triples and I would be surprised if Frank Vogel’s staff doesn’t ask Vooch to hoist more attempts from deep in the upcoming ’16-’17 campaign.

Montenegro remains undefeated on top of Group F, with one-loss Georgia right behind them. Coach Bogdan Tanjevic’s squad gets to play their final two games of qualifying at home in Bar at the Topolica Sports Hall. They take on a 0-4 Albania side on Wednesday, before concluding with the much anticipated rematch with Zaza Pachulia and Georgia on Saturday September 17th.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Orlando Magic Enter Training Camp with 19 Players

2016 September 10


It looks like the Orlando Magic will begin training camp on September 27th with 19 players on their roster after signing 6 free agents this week to amp up roster and rotation competition. The six players are: Cliff Alexander, Branden Dawson, Nick Johnson, Kevin Murphy, Arinze Onuaku, and the previously rumored Damjan Rudez. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel was the first to report the acquisitions.

Orlando has 13 players under contract for the upcoming 2016-2017 season, and these 6 training camp signings will look to fight for a spot in the new Frank Vogel era. Some of these additions could be candidates for the franchise’s D-League team, the Erie BayHawks as each NBA team can carry a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

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Nikola Vucevic Has Montenegro Halfway to EuroBasket 2017

2016 September 8
by Adam Papageorgiou
Courtesy of FIBA

Courtesy of FIBA

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic has his Montenegrin men’s basketball team at 3-0 in their six-game EuroBasket qualifying tournament schedule after winning a hectic contest in the 9,700-seat Tbilisi Sports Palace against Georgia 76-74 on Wednesday.

To say it was scrappy was an understatement. Vucevic finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks on 7-of-22 shooting (2-of-5 on 3s) in 28 minutes. It was a lot tougher than the 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the easy 15 minutes he played in that blowout of Albania just a few days prior.

It was dubbed a duel of NBA centers between ‘Vooch’ and former Magic man – current Golden State signing – Zaza Pachulia. It didn’t disappoint. Pachulia was more efficient, but fouled out in crunch time. Pachulia had 22 points and 9 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Triples were the difference in this contest. Georgia shot an awful 3-of-20 from deep, while Montenegro hoisted up 13-of-33 on 3s.

If you have 2 hours to spare, watch the entire game. Yes, it gets ugly game-playing wise, but the passion displayed by players and fans is why international ball just matters more than most NBA games.

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