Denton: Nicholson Filled With Pride

By John Denton
Feb. 23, 2014

TORONTO – If there’s one player on the Orlando Magic who can understand the mass hysteria and delight going on in Canada today, it’s power forward Andrew Nicholson.

Nicholson grew up in the Toronto suburb of Mississaugua, and even though he never played hockey, he still loves the sport. And he was filled with pride on Sunday morning at Team Canada won Olympic Gold in hockey with a 3-0 defeat of Sweden.

Canadian hockey fans, and controversial Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, packed bars and Maple Leaf Square outside of the Air Canada Centre Sunday morning to watch the gold medal game. And after Canada’s victory, fans walked through the streets, cheered and honked horns for hours.

Asked if he ever played hockey, Nicholson – who wears a size 18 shoe – said, ``not with this feet.’’ But he did own a Matt Sundin jersey and he was happy for his home country on Sunday.

``That is awesome,’’ said Nicholson, whose Magic (17-40) face the Toronto Raptors (30-25) tonight at 6 p.m. ``It means a lot. We’re known for hockey here and I’m just proud of those guys. This (hockey) is our stuff.’’

The Magic will have some moving parts on Sunday night with leading scorer Arron Afflalo out with a sprained right ankle. Maurice Harkless will be in the starting lineup for Afflalo, who rolled his ankle in Friday’s double-overtime defeat of the New York Knicks.

``Everyone has got to pitch in a little bit. And the guys coming off the bench have to be ready to play,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``It doesn’t change philosophically what we do on either end of the floor. So a lot of the things will look very similar.’’

Nicholson will be riding the high of playing in his hometown and also from having his collegiate number retired Saturday night at St. Bonaventure in upstate New York. Nicholson, the second-leading scorer in school history, was filled with joy during the ceremony on Saturday night. As a senior, he helped the Bonnies reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years.

``It was good to be a part of a storied event,’’ Nicholson said. ``It was a packed house. It was a good group and they all cheered loud. It was a lot of the same group that I saw over the four years there. (Having his number retired) is something that I wanted to do as a freshman and I’m glad it happened.’’

With the Magic having recently bought out the contract of Glen Davis, Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn are expected to see more playing time at power forward. Tobias Harris will start at that spot tonight.