Posted by Melanie Curtsinger, Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 2:45 PM

Super Confident Afflalo

Last week, the entire Magic staff gathered at the Orlando Museum of Art for the annual “Magic University,” which is the unofficial kick-off for our organization at the start of each NBA season. As part of the program, a few players join us each year to talk about their offseason and participate in a Q&A panel, where we learned some funny things, like the fact that Arron Afflalo grew up obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (he even had the sheets) and he’s now currently obsessed with Olive Garden (he’s gone five times the last two weeks), while Kyle O’Quinn and Jameer Nelson’s first jobs were as janitors.

But throughout the differing answers and questions that the panel discussion covered, one thing became particularly clear, especially when listening to newcomer Afflalo answer his questions. When he was asked the first time he thought he could make it in the NBA, Afflalo confidently answered: “I am very competitive; I always thought I would make it in the NBA and that has always been my dream.” And although O’Quinn said his dream job was “an astronaut or doctor, until you realize how much school you have to go through,” Afflalo once again simply stated his answer: “The NBA has always been Plan A.”

Maybe this shouldn’t have surprised me, since he said the first thing he does post-game is watch film and is also a self-proclaimed fan of practice. “I enjoy practice and the opportunity to get better,” he said of non-game days. As a former player myself, I think I might agree more with Nelson, who jokingly said his favorite part of practice is stretching at the end, but you have to tip your hat to a guy who actually LIKES running up and down the floor all day, getting yelled at by your coach, learning and dissecting your plays and the plays of your opponents, etc. I can only imagine that if I were an NBA player, the games and the excitement of competing against another band of 15 guys in front of 18,000 people would be my favorite part, but here’s someone that actually puts just as much emphasis on the preparation behind the scenes as he does when he is in the spotlight. In fact, based on his answers that day, it seems that Afflalo’s entire life has been preparation for this very moment.

According to Afflalo, success comes from “a repetitive striving for excellence,” something that has been echoed by new General Manager Rob Hennigan since his first day on the job. This is a guy who succeeded when, as a teen, he went to the donut shop each morning, bought donuts for .60 cents and sold them for $1.00, and this is the same man that will, in my opinion at least, succeed as a member and leader of the Orlando Magic.