Denton: Fans Show Support for Oladipo in Indiana
By John Denton
Oct. 29, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – After wading through approximately 500 crimson-and-cream-clad Indiana University fans to sign autographs and pose for pictures, Orlando Magic Victor Oladipo was asked if he felt extra pressure to perform in his NBA debut in front of so many family members, ex-teammates and college fans.
In typical Oladipo fashion, the fearless rookie guard embraced the magnitude of the moment and said the familiar surroundings provided a dream-like setting for him.
``I like this background,’’ Oladipo said as fans chanted `O-la-di-po’ not far away from him. ``There are going to be a lot of people here that I know and my family is going to be here, so I’m glad they all can share this special moment with me.’’
Oladipo said his mother, sister, uncle, aunt and a group of friends from Indiana University were in attendance at the game. His coach at Indiana, Tom Crean, also attended the game. He said in all, he gave out ``18 to 20’’ tickets to family and friends.
Playing the first regular-season NBA game of his career, Oladipo put on a show for the family, friends and Indiana University fans that filled the stands at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He buried his first NBA shot – a straight-on 3-pointer – and converted a dunk in transition in the Magic’s 97-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Oladipo had his every move of the night cheered in a 12-point, three-rebound, two-assist performance off the bench. He split his time between the shooting guard and point guard positions in 22 minutes.
``I’m just going to continue to play hard, remember what got me here and never forget that,’’ Oladipo said after the game. ``It’s not all going to come overnight. I just got here and this is my first NBA game, so it’s not all going to be perfect or set in stone. It’s a growing process and I just have to be patient.’’
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said before the game that with Oladipo starting his career before so many family and friends that it would test his ability to block out distractions.
``This is a great challenge for him. That’s what this league is about – being able to play three games in four nights and four games in five nights – and muster the mental fortitude to get through a game,’’ Vaughn said. ``It’s a great challenge for him with family here, coaches here and friends here. Can you give all your energy toward your teammates and the game? It’s a good challenge.’’
Oladipo said part of what made his successful in college was his ability to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. He said that while the start of his NBA career has been ``amazing,’’ he has also worked hard to not put so much pressure on himself with unrealistic expectations. He knows that the transition from college shooting guard to NBA point guard will be filled with several highs and lows, but he is determined to work through the process with a positive outlook.
``I want to always have fun and not lose that. If you go through this game and put too much pressure on yourself, you lose your love for it. I don’t want to ever forget that. A big thing for me is to always play hard and have fun.’’
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