Magic Coaches and Players Visit Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

By John Denton
Jan. 12, 2018

WASHINGTON D.C. – In efforts to promote team unity, togetherness and respect for others, the Orlando Magic took in a couple of cultural landmarks during their two-day stay in the nation’s capital.

Following the squad’s early-morning practice in preparation for Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Magic visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as a team. The squad was allowed to view many of the famous quotes from the pioneer for Civil Rights and many players snapped pictures of the MLK statue with their cell phones. In a weird twist, a heavy fog poured across the statue from the nearby Tidal Basin, which has been frozen over for days.

``It was great,’’ Magic center Bismack Biyombo said of the team trip. ``Just to be able to pay respects to Dr. Martin Luther King for what he has done and the sacrifices that he made in order for this world to be better. It was very inspiring.’’

Added Magic coach Frank Vogel: ``It’s just good for our guys to keep a big picture and continue to be enlightened. Sadly, there is far too much social injustice in our country and he stood for a lot. (Monday’s holiday) is an important day and he was an important part of our history. I thought it was great for our guys to go over and experience it.’’

On Thursday morning, the Magic flew from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. and later in the day rookies Jonathan Isaac and Wes Iwundu and veteran guard Shelvin Mack toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is the second straight year that players from the Magic have visited the museum.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: NBA players usually approach the follow up to a poor game one of two ways – they either stay away from footage of the game completely in hopes of forgetting it or they heavily delve into the review as a means in which to learn from their mistakes.

Magic standout Aaron Gordon usually subscribes to the former theory in hopes of flushing poor performances out of his head. However, after he made just four of 18 shots – missing his last 12 and scoring just one point over the final three quarters of a loss in Milwaukee – Gordon said he spent most of Thursday studying film from recent games. Also, he had just one assist in 30 minutes.

``After a good game, I like to watch the film to put myself in that space (mentally). After a bad game, I don’t like to watch the film, but I know that I have to and you make yourself cringe by some of the plays that you make,’’ Gordon said. ``If I don’t like the way that I’m playing, I’ll go back and watch film. So, I watched four games (on Thursday) because I just didn’t like the way that the game felt and I needed to see why as a spectator and look at it more objectively. And what I saw was that I wasn’t creating enough for my teammates.’’

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Walking into Washington’s Capital One Arena on Friday had to be a bit weird for Magic center Nikola Vucevic considering it was the site of an injury that knocked him out of action.

When the Magic played the Wizards on Dec. 23, Vucevic’s left hand collided with Wizards center Ian Mahinmi, fracturing the second metacarpal near his index finger.

Vucevic, who needed surgery and isn’t expected to return until February, is back around his teammates and beginning conditioning drills – things that he is delighted about because they help soothe his frustration of having to miss games.

``It’s been great to be back on the road and being around the guys and just being on the bench feels better than just sitting at home after the surgery,’’ said Vucevic, Orlando’s third-highest scorer (17.4 ppg.) and its top rebounder (9.3 rpg.). ``Being out there with the team means I’m getting closer and closer every day. I’m in good spirts and just taking it one day at a time.’’

Vucevic restarted conditioning drills on Monday and he is hopeful that he will soon be cleared to begin ball-handling drills and some light shooting. He is hopeful that by staying active that he will be ready to go as soon as he passes every clearance hurdle.

``No ball (drills) yet, just conditioning and running so far and some lifting – mostly lower-body stuff – and very little upper-body stuff because I can’t use my arm,’’ said Vucevic, who still has a protective cast over much of his hand and forearm. ``Hopefully, next week I’ll be able to do more with my hand. That’s what I’m hoping for. So far, I’m feeling good and when I was running I didn’t feel like I was out of shape or anything.’’

UP NEXT: Following their three-game road trip, the Magic will get some time to recover before their next game.

The Magic will have an off day and two days of practice before hosting Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at the Amway Center. Orlando lost 124-118 in Minnesota on Nov. 24 – a game in which Orlando’s Gordon and Minnesota’s Butler each scored 26 points.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.