Denton: Oladipo Showing Toughness as Competitor

By John Denton
Dec. 8, 2013

HOUSTON – In the eyes of Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, rookie guard Victor Oladipo isn’t too cool when it comes to playing gritty, hard-nosed defense. And that’s a very good thing.

Vaughn pointed to Oladipo’s spectacular block of a Carmelo Anthony dunk attempt Friday in New York as a play where Oladipo sacrificed himself for the good of the team. Whereas some players would shy away from such a situation for fear of getting dunked on, Oladipo went up at the rim and stuffed the dunk attempt. That, Vaughn said, tells you a lot about the toughness and selflessness of Oladipo.

``The great thing about Victor is that he’s not worried about being cool,’’ Vaughn said. ``You take for example, Carmelo (Anthony) is going to dunk the basketball in New York, but there is no hesitation from Victor. He’s goes up and blocks the shot. And if he gets dunked on, he’s on some channel the next day, but who cares? He cares about what’s best for his team. I love that about him and I hope it continues.’’

In addition to leading all NBA rookies in scoring (14.1 ppg.), Oladipo has also flexed his muscles defensively. He ranks second in steals (1.68) and third in blocked shots (0.79) among NBA rookies. Vaughn said Oladipo’s court awareness when it comes to defense has been quite impressive.

``He’s been extremely solid. And you give him a lot of credit that for a young guy he’s in the right place a lot of times,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’ll continue to anticipate plays. We don’t preach gambling (on defense) and I’m not a huge steals guy and I don’t care if my guys leads the league in steals or blocks. I’d rather him be sound and he’s headed in that direction.’’

PARSONS LINKED TO MAGIC: Chandler Parsons has never played for the Magic, but in many ways he feels a part of the franchise’s rich history because of his ties to the Central Florida area.

Parsons, a Casselberry native, started out going to Magic games when he was a child because his grandparents are original season-ticketholders with the Magic since the inaugural season 25 years ago. Parsons said the first basketball jersey he owned was a Shaquille O’Neal/Magic jersey and he was on hand for many of the Magic’s playoff games during the run to the NBA Finals in 1995.

So as the Magic celebrate their 25th anniversary season, Parsons is still proud to call himself a Magic fan even though he has become a standout player for the Houston Rockets.

``It’s still weird for me play the Magic because I used to go to all of their games and my family has been season-ticketholders since (1989. It’s more weird when I go there (to Orlando), but even here (in Houston) it’s surreal,’’ Parsons said. ``I’ve been to so many (Magic) games. I used to go to RDV (Sportsplex) in the summers and I work out with the Magic players in the summer at their facility. So I’ve always been a huge supporter of theirs. There will always be that weird feeling for me playing my hometown team.’’

Despite struggling through back spasms, Parsons is averaging 16.7 points a game for the Rockets this season. He also averages 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range.


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