Denton: NBA Legends in Oladipo's Corner
By John Denton
October 9, 2013
ORLANDO – Victor Oladipo’s NBA debut was going along swimmingly Wednesday night what with him setting up several Orlando Magic teammates for dunks and him stuffing the stat sheet full of positives.
Then, came the capper to a nearly perfect night: Oladipo’s dazzling debut received the blessing of Hall of Famer and former Magic employee Julius ``Dr. J’’ Erving.
With Erving and fellow Hall of Famers Rick Barry, George Gervin and Artis Gilmore looking on from seats close to the Magic bench, Oladipo went out in Wednesday’s exhibition opener and played nearly flawless basketball. And following a performance in which he had 10 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four assists, he was greeted on the court by ``Dr. J.’’ The legendary Erving congratulated Oladipo on having a nice night to begin his NBA journey.
``That’s a blessing because (Erving) is one of the greats,’’ Oladipo said. ``For him, all of them to be on the sideline and watching, that was special. It’s amazing, and it’s all God’s blessing for (Erving) to say that to me. But it’s just the beginning, I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s a long season.’’
Attempting to make the transition from college shooting guard to NBA point guard, Oladipo seemed calm running pick-and-roll plays and he handled the ball well and ran the offense without a hitch. In 24 minutes on the floor, the Magic were a plus-22 in the scoring column and he turned the ball over just two times.
And following that performance, Erving wasn’t the only one raving about the Magic rookie’s sterling debut.
``He did a great job of (distributing),’’ said Magic forward Tobias Harris, who played exclusively with Oladipo throughout the game. ``In the past practices he’s really been improving and you can see that. This was his first preseason game and he was probably a little nervous before the game, but he went out there and played as hard as he could. He brings a lot to us and our basketball team.’’
Harris, who had 17 points and nine rebounds, has known and trained with Gervin for years because of the working relationship between his father and ``The Iceman.’’ Harris also made sure to talk to Erving before the game and he admitted he was blown away by the basketball royalty watching the game courtside.
``Playing in front of some of the greats in the NBA was an honor,’’ Harris said. ``George Gervin, who I know and train with, for him to be here at the game with that company means a lot. And I talked to Doctor J. I talked to him when he was (in Orlando) at the summer league. He’s from Long Island (New York) also, so that’s my tie-in.’’
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