Afflalo: "More Motivating Than Disappointing"

By John Denton
Jan. 31, 2014

ORLANDO– For a snapshot into the relentless drive and professionalism of Arron Afflalo, all one has to do is look at the Orlando Magic guard’s response to not making the All-Star Game.

``I would call it more motivating than disappointing,’’ Afflalo said a day after being left off the Eastern Conference All-Star team. ``I do respect the coaches’ opinions and I respect the process. And of all of the guys who made they do deserve in some shape or form deserve to be there. I don’t think you’re an all-star for no reason.

Afflalo is in the process of raising his scoring average a seventh consecutive season, the second-longest such streak to start a career in NBA history. And even though he is in the midst of a career year, averaging personal bests in scoring (20 ppg.), rebounds (4.3 rpg.) and assists (3.7 apg.), he feels he can still take his game to another level higher in the future.

``It creates more fire for me to hopefully put myself in a position where there’s no debate where I belong at my position or in the league for that matter,’’ Afflalo said of the snub. ``I’ll definitely put the necessary work in to make sure that next time around there’s no discussion.’’

Afflalo knows that the Magic’s 12-35 record heading into Friday played a major role in him getting passed over for the likes of Joe Johnson and DerMar DeRozan – players who didn’t stack up to Afflalo’s numbers statistically – but played on more successful teams. Afflalo said he just needs to do everything in his power to help speed up the Magic’s development process.

``In the most positive way I can describe it, we’re still growing. There are things that I can control and things that I can’t control,’’ Afflalo said. ``From a coaching angle to my teammates, they are going to grow at a rate that’s going to happen. I can mentor and provide an example, but this is always going to be a team sport. There are great players who push teams faster than others, but for me in particular, the timetable is going to be what it is.’’

PRAISE FOR STERN: Friday was NBA Commissioner David Stern’s last day in office as the league’s boss, bringing an end to a highly successful 30-year run. In his time as NBA Commissioner, Stern was credited for growing the game globally, cleaning up off-court disciple issues and putting the NBA near the top of the television ratings game.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has had several interactions with Stern through his 12 years as a player in the NBA and his two seasons as the Magic coach. He said Stern deserves much of the credit for growing the NBA into the global giant that it has become.

``I met him many times along the way in the different stages of my career,’’ Vaughn said. ``He put the game in a special place right now where it’s global, fan-friendly and beneficial to players and owners. And it’s great to be a part of (the NBA). It’s a great legacy that he leaves behind.’’

NIK PROGRESSING: Center Nikola Vucevic came into the Magic’s headquarters on Thursday – an off day for the team – to get up jump shots and work on his conditioning. He reported no ill effects from playing 20 minutes on Wednesday in Toronto – his first game after missing more than three weeks and 12 games because of a concussion.

Vucevic said he exceeded his expectations on Wednesday by scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He air-balled his first shot on a step-back jumper, but he proceeded to make six of the next 11 on a variety of hooks, jumpers and layups.

``It was fun being back and I’m glad that I can help my teammates,’’ Vucevic said. ``The first game felt pretty good and hopefully now I can stay out there until the end of the season.’’

Vucevic was injured on Jan. 6 when his legs were knocked out from under him by Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin and he landed head-first on the Staples Center floor. Vucevic hasn’t seen the footage of the play and he said he has no plans to do so anytime soon. Vucevic said he’s done his best to block the hard fall out of his mind because he doesn’t want it to affect his play or make him passive on the court.

``I didn’t really think about it (on Wednesday) and I just got out there and played,’’ Vucevic said. ``Injuries are a part of the game and they are going to happen. But I didn’t think about what happened the other night because I was feeling good. I want to go out there and play and help my team win.’’