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Penny & Pops Podcast: Ban Lists

2016 August 7

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Mario Hezonja and Croatia begin their Olympic medal quest. The 21-year-old was able to walk at the opening ceremony and seems to be enjoying himself.

France looks to already be regretting leaving Evan Fournier at home.

Damjan Rudez will be joining the Magic, which means Frank Vogel could be looking at 3 former Pacers on his new squad.

Penny tells a unique Pat Garrity story.

The preseason schedule is out, and what that means for Orlando.

Elfrid Payton was voted ‘best teammate’ according to the NBAPA’s polling. Nikola Vucevic is preparing for his EuroBasket qualifying journey with Montenegro.

Finally, the Magic official Twitter account is polling fans on who the Top 25 players in franchise history are, and the results have not gone well so far.

Warning: Adult Language




Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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

Hezonja, Croatia to Challenge for an Olympic Medal

2016 August 6
by Adam Papageorgiou
Courtesy of FIBA

Courtesy of FIBA

Saturday marks the beginning of actual basketball games occurring at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Orlando Magic have one representative participating: Mario Hezonja.

The 21-year-old wing player is coming off his rookie NBA campaign and – as the second-youngest member of his national team – is looking to help bring glory to his country of Croatia.

This will be Croatia’s 4th Olympic Games. They won silver in 1992 – losing to that legendary ‘Dream Team’ in the final – in Barcelona, finished 7th in 1996 in Atlanta, and 6th place in Beijing in 2008. Long gone are the days of Toni Kukoc leading his nation. They had won FIBA World Cup bronze in 1994, as well as bronze in 1993 and 1995 at EuroBasket.

So it’s been 21 years since this Croatian NT has won a medal in a major tournament, and they’ve never won gold. That could change very soon. 22-year-old Dario Saric will be the star of that squad sooner than later. Saric will be joining the Philadelphia 76ers this upcoming season. Brooklyn Net Bojan Bogdanovic is the man though who scores the majority of the points. Krunoslav Simon is the reason Hezonja isn’t starting yet. Simon’s 3-point shooting can be outstanding at times. Roko Ukic is the captain, and his point guard play will be huge in a tournament that can easily be dominated by ball-handlers. They don’t have Ante Tomic at center, but there’s respectable depth at that position with Miro Bilan and Darko Planinic there. Croatia had the toughest path this summer to even get to the Olympics.


croatia wikipedia



In the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin, Croatia shook off a first-game loss to Italy. They’d beat Tunisia, and then took down a Greece team that played badly in a do-or-die situation. Croatia shocked a lot of people by beating Italy in the OQT final on Italian soil. In overtime. Against guys like Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli, Luigi Datome, Daniel Hackett, and Andrea Bargnani nonetheless. It’s a big deal to punch that ticket to the Olympics, and Mario is part of that.

Hezonja is playing a 6th man role, but coach Aleksander Petrovic has been pleased with Mario’s performances in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and last friendly preparation contests prior to the trip to Brazil. Hezonja was at his best when he played and defended the point guard position. Otherwise, he can get lost in the offense because the coaching staff wants him camping out in the corners so the floor spreads for the ball-handlers like Saric and Ukic. We’ll see how Mario’s role evolves while in Brazil.

At the OQT, the 6’8″ Mario averaged 4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, and 1.8 apg on a rough 28.6 FG% (6-of-21) and 20.0 3PT% (2-of-10). The shooting leaves a lot to be desired, but Mario’s overall outings were solid when you factor in the defense and ball distribution he provided.

Mario had better numbers at the 2015 EuroBasket last year, but that was a tournament where Croatia sadly finished in 9th place. Hezonja averaged 6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 1.2 apg on 41.2 FG% (14-of-34) and 27.3 3PT% (6-of-22). For Croatia to go far in these Olympics, Mario is going to have to put up his best averages ever for the senior national team. Eight or nine points per contest would be ideal, but we all should hope for better shooting efficiency.

Let’s take a look at Croatia’s chances at success in the coming week or two.

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Damjan Rudez is Joining the Magic…in Some Capacity

2016 August 6
by Adam Papageorgiou


The Orlando Magic have 13 players under contract currently for the upcoming 2016-2017 season. 30-year-old Croatian forward Damjan Rudez could be the fourteenth. Here’s where the confusion kicks in. It was first reported by Eurohoops that ‘Damo’ was joining the Magic, and that he was expected to be signed to a one-year deal for the season.

Not so fast. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reports that the 6’10” 3-point shooting specialist has only been given a training camp invite, and that Rudez will have to prove himself in training camp and the preseason to get a contract for the year.



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Will Opening Night Be A Sunshine State Rivalry Meeting?

2016 August 5
by Adam Papageorgiou


The Orlando Magic 2016-2017 regular season schedule isn’t expected to be released until next week, but portions of it are beginning to leak out. One rumored game in particular has caught my attention. Opening night.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel seems to have caught wind of a few contests that will occur based off the ‘preliminary schedules’ being circulated to NBA teams and television broadcast partners. I’m sure there will be some changes to those schedules when they’re finalized, but in that piece from Winderman comes news related to the Magic.

Orlando will apparently be hosting the Miami Heat at Amway Center on Wednesday October 26th. It would be the season opener for the Heat. Not reported, is if it would be the first contest for Orlando. I’m going to assume it is considering Orlando hosted their ’15-’16 season opener on a Wednesday against the Wizards.

I hope this Heat-Magic duel is true because not only is this a Southeast division matchup to begin the ’16-’17 campaign, but also the first of 4 sunshine state battles. Orlando is looking to regain supremacy in what I still strongly consider to be a rivalry.

The Magic have not faced each other to open a campaign since 1993 when Orlando defeated the Heat in Miami by 20 points. Shaquille O’Neal had 42 points and 12 rebounds, and a rookie Anfernee Hardaway posted 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. The two teams haven’t faced each other in the playoffs since 1997.

The Magic hosted Miami to open the ’92-’93 season at the O-rena where the home side won by ten. A rookie Shaq had 12 points and 18 rebounds, while Nick Anderson led the way with 42 points. Dennis Scott dropped 27 in victory. Fun times.

We already know Orlando’s last preseason game will be a home game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 20th. That leaves 5 full preparation days between then and when this reported regular season contest takes place for Frank Vogel’s squad. As a friendly reminder, due to his playoff flagrant foul while a member of the Toronto Raptors, Bismack Biyombo won’t be available for the first regular season game.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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

Team Mobile App Proves Very Profitable For Magic

2016 August 2
by Adam Papageorgiou


The Orlando Magic were part of an intriguing GeoMarketing article that dove into how technology has recently helped the franchise not only maximize on data obtained from their consumers, but how that information was transformed into generating extra revenue for team operations.

If you have the official team mobile app on your smart phone, you’ve noticed plenty of features. Game schedules. Statistics. Videos. Those are some of the basic things you’d expect from the app.

The Orlando Magic app has taken your typical professional sports app to new levels thanks to location beacons set up all over Amway Center. The ‘How The Orlando Magic Generated $1 Million In Ticket Sales With Beacons’ GeoMarketing piece title certainly grabs at you.

You can order team shop gear from your seat inside the arena and pick up your items from any kiosk after or during the game. Food can be ordered from your seat, where you can then pick it up from a convenient location or have it delivered to your seat. You can even transfer ‘Magic Money’ to friends and family.

The partnership with daily fantasy sports juggernaut FanDuel doesn’t hurt either. The Magic have reportedly earned $500,000 from all in-app sponsorship revenue.

Then there’s ordering and upgrading tickets. This has been the largest reason for why many people have downloaded the app. First introduced in 2014, and expanded since then, the ‘Fast Break Pass’ has been immensely popular among Magic fans who don’t care where their seats are located, but want to attend as many games as possible at a very reasonable price by NBA standards.


The Orlando Magic drove over $1 million in increased ticket sales, 30 percent app adoption (compared to industry standard of 5 percent), and a 233 percent increase in Fast Break Pass sales from last season, Proxbook points out. More than 80 percent of season ticket holders have accessed and used the app.


The Fast Break Pass can only be obtained and utilized via the team’s app, so you absolutely have to have a smart phone and the app once you walk inside Amway Center. That’s because you don’t know where your seats for each game will be until you get a notification about 15 minutes prior to tip-off. You could be in the nosebleeds, but you also could score some awesome lower bowl seats as well. It’s extraordinary value, and something I’ve repeatedly said I’d buy if I wasn’t credentialed.


“The Orlando case is a perfect example of a well-executed campaign that can be translated to all sorts of verticals, especially to retail,” Unacast Founder/CEO Thomas Walle told GeoMarketing. “Beacons and proximity are not solely responsible for the immense success of the team’s physical marketing strategy. It’s how well the team managed to integrate every piece of data into one singular system. Through proximity technologies they were able to leverage that data and turn the fan experience into something that was extraordinary.”


It’s success like that indicates the Magic would be crazy to go away from what has been certain success of technological innovation. I’m looking forward to see not only how the 2016-2017 season Fast Break Pass offers will look like, but to see how else the franchise shows off its creativity. Of course, winning games takes pressure off having to constantly be innovative.


“We attribute the use of proximity technologies to our dramatic increase in fan engagement, ticket sales and season ticket holder renewal rates,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, in a statement. “The biggest complaints in our business centered around the long lines at the concessions and the fact that you had to miss a good portion of games because you were in that line. Now, we were able to eliminate that problem and look forward to utilizing the enormous amount of data to provide the best possible fan experience in our venue for our customers.”

The team worked with app developer VenueNext on content management and with Canopy and Wisdom, a data and analytics platform. The two systems combined to help the Magic realize “a comprehensive view of their venue systems over the course of an event, and insights into guests’ behaviors so you can adapt and make changes in real-time.”


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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

Magic Unveil 7-Game 2016 Preseason Schedule

2016 August 1
by Adam Papageorgiou


Happy first of the month. The Orlando Magic on Monday unveiled their 2016 exhibition schedule as they gear up for a critical campaign in the franchise’s history. The preseason for coach Frank Vogel’s squad begins October 3rd in Memphis and ends on October 20th when the Magic host the New Orleans Pelicans at Amway Center.

Here’s the schedule:



Date                Opponent                                   Time (ET)

Oct. 3              @ Memphis                                        8 p.m.

Oct. 5              @ Cleveland                                       7 p.m.

Oct. 12            SAN ANTONIO                                  7 p.m.

Oct. 14            INDIANA                                             7 p.m.

Oct. 16             ATLANTA                                           6 p.m.

Oct. 18              @ Miami                                             7:30 p.m.

Oct. 20             NEW ORLEANS                                7 p.m.


At a glance, the quality of opposition looks solid. A Memphis team that will improve just by having guys like Marc Gasol staying healthy. The champion Cavaliers and LeBron James are next. After those first 2 road games, Orlando gets a full week off to probably get more work in and make plenty of training tweaks before hosting their first home match at Amway Center on October 12th against an always great Spurs squad that will be dealing without Tim Duncan being in a San Antonio jersey.

Paul George and the Pacers come to town on the 14th. Vogel’s former employer. Two days after that, it’s Dwight Howard and the Hawks. Then on the 18th, a road game down south against a Miami franchise that has drastically changed with Dwyane Wade no longer there. Finally, the Pelicans and Anthony Davis come in on the 20th as New Orleans is seeking a bounce back season.

It’s obviously very difficult to figure out how often and how long starters for either side will play. Half of Orlando’s roster will be different. Vogel and his coaching staff will be looking to implement style and plays on each end of the floor while also trying to figure out depth chart and rotations.

It’s very interesting that they’ll just be playing seven contests instead of eight. Four of them are at home, three on the road. It doesn’t appear that Orlando will be hitting international soil to play any of these ballgames.

Cross your fingers that all 7 of these games will be on television in some form or fashion. These next 2 months can’t get here soon enough.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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

Penny & Pops Podcast: Does Orlando Have The East’s Best Frontcourt?

2016 July 31

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On this episode, former Orlando Magic Killer for Detroit Chauncey Billups almost joined Frank Vogel’s coaching staff. Stuff the green dragon was crowned NBA Mascot of the Year.

ESPN seems to believe Orlando will not improve in the upcoming ’16-17 campaign, tagging them with a similar 35-47 win-loss record as they had last season.

Does Orlando have the best frontcourt in the Eastern Conference? Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green, and Aaron Gordon certainly seem to make the Magic a top-5 threat.

We transition to international ball. France’s senior national basketball team will probably regret not taking Evan Fournier to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Finally, how will Mario Hezonja do in his first Olympics? Can Croatia actually win a medal in a tournament where Team USA is obviously the clear gold favorites?

Warning: Adult Language



Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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

Stuff Wins NBA Mascot of the Year Honor

2016 July 30
by Adam Papageorgiou


Orlando Magic mascot Stuff has apparently been crowned NBA Mascot of the Year, according to a lot of exclamation-filled social media postings. Congratulations to the green guy. We see him mostly at Magic games, but Stuff is constantly out in the community visiting people in hospitals and attending parties he gets invited to.





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Orlando Announces 2016-2017 Magic Dancers Squad

2016 July 29
by Adam Papageorgiou

Fernando Medina, Orlando Magic

On Thursday night, thirty women took part in final auditions inside Amway Center’s Disney Atrium where they performed in front of fans to earn one of 20 spots for the finalized 2016-2017 Orlando Magic Dancers team. It was the culmination of a lengthy two-week process. Pre-auditions. Interviews. Workouts. Routines.

There are only 6 new faces this season, as – you do the math – fourteen are returning for another campaign.

Looking at the photo at the top, here’s your 20-dancer squad:

Top row, left to right: Lily, Kiki, Sarah, Cierra, Olivia, Desiree, Rachel, Bethany, Nicole H., Kori

Bottom row, left to right: Erika, Zuli, Victoria Q., Molleigh, Brittany, Mackenzie, Nikki, Nicole F., Lauren, Victoria R.

Fans were allowed to vote all week on who they wanted to make the team, but there was a judging panel as well on Thursday.




Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

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

Orlando Can Play The ‘Disrespect’ Card This Season

2016 July 28
by Adam Papageorgiou
Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

It’s not difficult to figure out what the Orlando Magic did this offseason, or how great they could be this upcoming 2016-2017 NBA campaign. Yet why are some national media outlets perplexed and even outraged at some of their moves?

In my eyes, Orlando’s defense improved a lot. Especially on the interior. Their 3-point shooting will be better. They’re going to run faster while still having enough offensive options to carve up opponents in half-court sets. They got experience, but this franchise is far from old. C.J. Watson is currently the only Magic man over the age of 30. The depth chart and rotations appear clear. On paper, Orlando looks like a playoff team if the roster can stay healthy.

The folks at ESPN Stats & Information believe the Magic will finish with…the same record as the ’15-’16 season. 35-47 and 13th out of fifteen franchises in the Eastern Conference. No improvement. None.


Are the Magic any better or worse off for trading Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka? Both play great defense but struggle to get involved offensively. You could say the same for other Magic additions in Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green.


So let’s recap. Here are the players that are entering and who have exited the franchise’s employment over the past month and a half.

OUT: Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Dewayne Dedmon, Jason Smith, Andrew Nicholson, Brandon Jennings, Shabazz Napier, Devyn Marble, Domantas Sabonis (2016 #11 pick)

IN: Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, D.J. AugustinJodie Meeks, C.J. Wilcox, Stephen Zimmerman

Oh, and the Magic upgraded their coaching too. The Magic will still be bringing in one or two more players come opening night. And you’re telling me the Magic won’t improve? At all?

It doesn’t stop there.

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