Monday, September 1, 2014

Victor Oladipo's Q & A with CBS Sports

James Herbert of CBS Sports was able to have a wonderful Q & A session with Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo. Below is their lengthy and recent offseason conversation.

Jameer is gone. Arron's gone. What does this mean for you?
Those are two big players for us that we lost. Two of our top leading scorers. So it definitely means I'm going to have to step up my game and lead the team. It definitely means I'm going to have to take on a leadership role and just try to help my team win, be a huge impact on winning. It's going to be a tough situation to be in, but at the end of the day I wouldn't rather be in any other position. I'm looking forward to every day I'm competing with my teammates and giving us an opportunity to win.
What makes a good leader?
I think what makes a good leader is the ability to not only lead but listen. Listen to what everybody else has to say, their opinions, and then giving yours and coming up with a solution. That's the biggest thing about being a leader, and those are the things I'm trying to acquire and learn.
Do you feel like you're the face of the team now?
I don't know. I mean, feel like I'm a part of a team. I feel like I'm a part of something bigger than myself … but yes, I do feel like I play a huge significance and then as a leader I have to take that role on.
What was the best moment on the select team?
I think the best moment was just going out there and putting on the jersey. Wearing those three letters across your chest and representing your country. Being able to do that was a blessing and an honor. Going out there and competing against the best in the world, the best in our league, is definitely an honor, too. It was great for me. Great exposure and a great experience as well.
Derrick Rose said in Vegas he thinks you're a great player, he's a fan of your game, he's there for you if you need anything.
Shoot, it's really cool to even know that he was watching me and he watches my game ‘cause I've definitely been watching him ever since I was in college and even younger than that. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does next year. I know he's going to come back stronger and better because I saw flashes of that in USA Basketball.
You were drafted second, you finished second in Rookie of the Year. Are you sick of second place yet?
Man, I'm so sick of it. But at the end of the day, it just makes me work even harder. I'm just going to keep working hard. That No. 2, that second place doesn't last very long.
Jabari Parker said a couple of weeks ago, “There's been a lot of second pick busts. I'm just trying not to be that bust.” You relate?
Man, there's no question [laughs]. Man, there's been a lot of second pick busts. And there's no question I'm not trying to be one of them, and I know he has the same mentality, too. He's a great player and he's gonna have a great career. With me, man, I'm just getting better, man. I'm not paying no attention to being a bust ‘cause I don't plan on being one. I'm just going to continue to keep getting better and keep attacking this game ‘cause like I said before in my rookie year, I'm just trying to be one of the greatest to ever play.
What comes to mind when I say the names Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton?
Two players that we're definitely going to need this year. They're going to have to come in and play a big role for us and they're really good players, man. They defend at a high level and they're talented. Their ceiling is out of this world, so I'm looking forward to playing with them and growing with them as well. It's going to be fun.
Do you get extra pumped when you see your team drafting defensive guys?
Yeah. I mean, that's all I've been about when I was younger. That's all I'm about now. I feel like if you play defense, get enough defense, it creates for your offense. I think the biggest thing is about slowing people down in the league. If you have to defenders who can do that, it's big for your team. So I'm excited.
What was it like to spend time in Bloomington with Cody Zeller, Dwyane Wade and like half of the Miami Heat?
It was huge. It was a great experience for me and definitely me and Cody. Us young players, first-year players, being able to experience that and just experience those guys. They're NBA champions. Numerous rings, too. More than one.
Wade knows that you've been compared to him all the time, right?
Yeah. Oh yeah. He does.
Does he talk trash, give you advice?
He gives me a little bit of advice and everything like that. He definitely does help me. He's always been helping me, ever since I was in college. And he didn't have to, so I've always appreciated that and looked up to him because of that. He's family, basically. It's pretty cool that he's always been helpful even when I was younger, to now. He's just so knowledgeable. He knows so much about the game. It's kind of hard not to listen to him when he speaks.
Do you remember what it was like when you first started talking to him?
I don't even know how to explain it. Growing up watching him, him being one of the greatest to ever play, one of the best in our league, it's just crazy. To be able to have that opportunity to talk to him at such a young age and befriend him at such a young age … it definitely motivated me to work even harder.
Guys always say the season's about staying even-keeled. Is that easier said than done?
It is one of the toughest things, actually, to be able to do that. Especially when you're losing games, man, it's tough. You're losing close games and not-so-close games. It's tough, you're going out and you're playing as hard as you can and you know you're still going to come up short. It's a tough feeling and a tough thing to handle. At the end of the day, you do have to keep an even keel throughout the whole thing ‘cause if you get too high or you get too low, you could eventually break down.
Do you ever stop and go, “Wow, this is amazing?”
Yeah, definitely. Pretty much every day of my life. I've been playing basketball since I was five years old. It's a crazy experience for me to be known as just an NBA player. But it's not even satisfying, I feel like I want so much more from this game. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of how good I can be, so I'm just going to continue to keep working until I reach my goal. Goals.
What is the best moment of last year? What was the worst loss?
I think the best moment was probably my first game ever. Actually, it was at Indiana and all the Indiana people were there — I went to school there. I got a standing ovation when I checked in the game. It was my first ever game in the NBA and it was a crazy experience, one I'll never forget.
All the losses were the worst losses. They're all tough. All of them were the worst. Every loss feels the same. No matter if you lose by two or 20, they're all terrible.
You've been decorating superhero capes, right? How's the morning been?
I'm at the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion, and we have been giving it up for good[note: that's the slogan]. I think that's the main thing for today. That's pretty much what I'm all about is giving back to the community and giving it up for the kids. And we've been building capes, like you said, and giving it back to the kids at the children's hospital who have cancer so they feel like a superhero for a day.
How does your day progress from here?
I'm about to go to the hospital right now and hang out with the kids with cancer and just go have a good time … and give ‘em the capes and interact with them. I think that's the biggest thing, to just interact with ‘em and give ‘em something that they'll never forget. Being able to put a smile on a kid's face, even for a day, it goes a long way.

Friday, August 29, 2014

VIDEO: Orlando Natives and Magic Players Scrimmage

Here's a clip from Home Team Hoops of current Magic player Ben Gordon, former Magic men Marcin Gortat and Courtney Lee, as well as Orlando locals Austin Rivers, Patrick Ewing Jr., Darius Washington Jr., and Damarcus Croaker scrimmaging at the Engelwood Neighborhood Center just a few miles from Downtown Orlando. These guys actually met up to play weeks ago, but the footage is being released now.

You can see a wide variety of offensive moves - and even some defense - from Gordon. Gortat as always is super charismatic in the highlight reel.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aaron Gordon's Dime Q & A

Orlando Magic rookie forward Aaron Gordon is wise beyond his 18 years. It was more than evident again while he along with Elfrid Payton and Devyn Marble were attending the Rookie Transition Program. The folks at Dime put together a wonderful Q & A piece with Aaron that was too good for just one post, but that it needed two posts.

Dime: How’s the Rookie Transition Program going so far?

Aaron Gordon: I think it’s an excellent program. I believe that it’s really progressing and I can tell from some of the current and former players that are here talking to us that that’s the case. There’s a lot of great life advice here. It’s long – it’s 13 hours out of your day – but every hour there’s stuff for us to learn at and get better at as young players.

Dime: Is there anything specific you want to take from the program? A lot of players talk about the financial lessons – both basketball-related and otherwise – they learned at the program as things they really enjoyed. Is there anything specific you want to the from the RTP?

Gordon: You know, we’re here for a reason. So I believe that everything that’s been said and talked about is everything that I need to take in. There’s been a lot of things. But at the end of the day if you’re not gonna apply them to your life then this is a waste of time. So there’s not one specific thing that I would take over anything else – this is all really important stuff. Every single person here is saying what they’re saying to help guide us along our young careers. So for me not to take their advice would just be stupid, you know? I just want to apply everything I’ve learned here. That’s the main thing.

Dime: Has there been a presentation or speaker so far that’s made an especially big impact on you?

Gordon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Chris Herren’s was really cool. I’ve seen the 30 For 30 on ESPN, but to see him in person and see how passionate he is, and hear him talk about everything he’s been through has just been a huge, huge motivation for me to stay away from things like that, you know? He had everything going for him and was almost homeless by the end of his bad experiences. Him and Jason Williams – J-Will went through some stuff, too. I just think those are two perfect examples of wrong decisions that really affect your life.

Dime: All of the presentations, speakers, and stuff like that is obviously really important, but I assume getting to spend some time with your fellow rookies is another benefit of the Rookie Transition Program. Are there any guys you’ve become especially close with throughout the draft process and going through to the RTP?

Gordon: All of these guys are great guys. They all have personalities and they’re all fun in their own specific way. Basketball’s a really small world, so I’ve known a bunch of these guys for a long time. What I’m really trying to do is get more acquainted with [Magic teammates] Elfrid Payton and Roy Devyn Marble because that’s who I’m going to be spending so much time with during the season. At the end of the day we’ll leave this Rookie Transition Program as competitors, you know? It won’t be so happy, fun-and-games with everybody. But if I can continue getting to know Elfrid and Roy Dev better, it will just really help us as a team.

Dime: It’s funny you should say that about competition with your fellow rookies – my next question is whether or not you take any pride of being part of such a talented draft class, if in 10 years you’ll look back and be proud to be drafted in 2014 with guys like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. I’m guessing not?

Gordon: It’s hard to say one way or another because for me it’s hard to think so far forward and then have to think back to and live in the moment. But I’m proud that I’m part of such an elite group of basketball players and that I’m playing with the world’s best. But at the end of the day I’m not too worried about them; I’m only concerned with what I can do.

Dime: So what is it that you’re going to bring to the Magic this season specifically? As an 18, 19 year-old rookie?

Gordon: A little bit of everything. I believe that I’m a 6-9 playmaker, so whether that’s getting an offensive rebound and bringing it down myself, being able to knock down a periodical three-pointers and mid-range jumpers, and getting to the rim I just want to be aggressive. I think I’ll be able to do a lot of things. But what I’m most looking forward to is defending. I want to be able to defend the greatest players in the world and see how I stack up. So every single night I’m gonna give it my all because I don’t want to be the one on SportsCenter getting blasted for 30 points, you know?

Dime: What’s the biggest difference between the pro and college games that you noticed during Summer League. The competition will be different during the regular season, obviously, but I’d imagine even Summer League requires quite an adjustment for rookies.
Gordon: It’s been real rapid. I went from high school to college to the pros in two-and-a-half years, you know? In high school if you see something, your instincts will allow you to do it a second or two late. In college, your instinct has to be right on time. And in the NBA, your instinct has to be a second early. That’s pretty much the main difference.

Dime: You mentioned that you really want to make an impact on defense this season, and that’s been a strength of your game for a long time – guarding multiple positions, getting steals and blocks, and wreaking general havoc on that end. Is there any NBA player you’re especially looking forward to guarding?
Gordon: Just everybody, man. Like I said, there’s no bad players in the NBA. Every single night I’m gonna come out and give it my all. Yeah, sometimes I might get a little more up for a LeBron or KD and some other people, but at the same time I’m always gonna play defense and try my hardest to help my team win.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Andrew Nicholson, Canada Exhibition Tour Footage

If you've been following Andrew Nicholson and his Canadian national team during their 11-game European exhibition tour, then you know that it's been very difficult to hunt down live streams of the games. Thanks to Youtube user BasketArena, you can now watch Nicholson (wearing #7) in international action. Keep in mind, Andrew's post and paint game looks great. The problem has been his sporadic 3-point shooting and struggles to rebound and defend.

August 6th: Canada loses 82-70 to Spain
Andrew Nicholson: 13 points and 5 rebounds
Full game is here.

August 5th: Canada defeats Bosnia-Herzigovina 84-66
Andrew Nicholson: 13 points and 1 rebound

August 4th: Canada loses to Serbia 78-73
Andrew Nicholson: 10 points and 4 rebounds

Click here for game footage.