Magic Players Meet With Adam Silver, Take Tour of NBA Headquarters

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

NEW YORK – Getting to walk across the stage at the 2018 NBA Draft and shake the hand of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is a memory that Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba will undoubtedly cherish forever.

But getting to know Silver on a personal level, as Bamba has done through occasional text-message chats and when Magic players toured the NBA headquarters in Manhattan on Tuesday, has rivaled the experience of draft night for the 7-footer.

``I think every player has his number,’’ Bamba said of Silver, adding that the two occasionally trade texts following games. ``He’s super personable and he knows every player pretty well. NFL players say all the time that (NBA players) are fortunate to have a commissioner like we do.’’

Taking advantage of their time off in New York City, the Magic accepted an invitation from the NBA and toured the league’s headquarters following Tuesday’s practice at Baruch College. While at the NBA offices, players got to meet Silver, who coincidentally attended Orlando’s defeat of the Hawks in Atlanta a day earlier.

In addition to showing the players around, Silver conducted a lengthy question-and-answer session with the Magic players.

``It was awesome,’’ Bamba said. ``Adam is so gracious. I give the guy credit – he’s probably one of the most genius people that I’ve ever met. For him to carve out that much time for us and answer pretty much everything and have full transparency in everything he said, it means a lot to us as players. We took a tour of the headquarters and talked about different trends of the league, what they’re experimenting with and what they are planning on doing in the future.’’

GORDON STARTING AGAIN: Eager to get another shot at a Brooklyn team that he felt his Magic could have beaten a few nights earlier had he not had to leave due to injury, Aaron Gordon was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday against the Nets.

Gordon, 23, missed the past 2 ½ games after his lower back locked up on him last Friday against the Nets. After experiencing spasms and soreness, Gordon felt well enough to practice on Tuesday and play on Wednesday in Brooklyn.

Gordon was in the midst of another stellar game against the Nets last Friday – 23 points and three 3-pointers – when his back seized up on him while changing directions. He returned briefly and made a 3-pointer that gave Orlando an 11-point lead with 10 minutes to play. However, he could only look on helplessly from the locker room as the Nets rallied for a two-point lead. It was the first time this season in eight games that the Magic lost when Gordon scored at least 22 points (7-1).

``Yeah, I think we would have won,’’ Gordon said of the first meeting against the Nets. ``But there’s no telling. I missed two games and hopefully I’m not too far out of rhythm because it was only a couple of days out.’’

The scenario was similar to one that played out in November. Orlando seemed on the verge of pulling off one of its biggest victories of the season in November when it stormed to an 18-point third-quarter lead on the World Champion Golden State Warriors. However, Gordon had to leave that game with similar back pain and the Warriors rallied to the win behind Kevin Durant’s 49 points.

Gordon has a history of playing well against the Nets, scoring a career-best 41 against them last October. He also had a 20-point effort against Brooklyn last season to go with his 23 points last week before having to depart with the injury.

FOURNIER’S FURY: A player who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his defensive abilities, according to head coach Steve Clifford, Magic guard Evan Fournier has drawn some of the toughest assignments in the NBA this season. And, for the most part, he’s held his own as a gritty defender who has done an admirable job of containing dribble-drive penetration.

Most notably, Fournier played a major role in reigning MVP James Harden tying an NBA record recently when he missed 16 of the 17 3-pointers he attempted against Orlando. Fournier had the primary defensive responsibility on Harden and even though the NBA’s leading scorer finished with 38 points, the Magic guard made him work for it. Fournier contested 14 shots that night – 10 from two-point range and four from 3-point range.

On Wednesday, Fournier’s primary assignment was to be Brooklyn point guard D’Angelo Russell – the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week. In addition to torching the Magic for 40 points and eight 3-pointers last week – the final one after pushing off on Fournier to break a tie game in the final minute – Russell came into Wednesday averaging 24 points and 7.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor over his previous 10 games.

Fournier, who has guarded the likes of Donovan Mitchell, Gordon Hayward, Zach LaVine, Khris Middleton and Harden in the last month, puts Russell near the top as the hardest player to cover in the NBA.

``He’s good, for sure,’’ Fournier said. ``He had a very good game against us (last week), and a tough step-back (three) to win it. I’ve always liked him a player and I feel like he’s growing now as a player and embracing his new role of leading the Nets. He’s doing such a good job for them.’’

UP NEXT: After being on the road for the past four days, the Magic will get a much-needed day off on Thursday. The Magic will be back at the Amway Center on Friday night when they host all-star candidate Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards at 7 p.m.

The Magic and Wizards, rivals in the Southeast Division, have already played twice this season – with each team winning on their home court. The Magic won 117-108 on Nov. 9 at the Amway Center, while the Wizards held off Orlando 117-109 three nights later in Washington, D.C.

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