By John Denton
April 10, 2017
CHICAGO – In his first season with Orlando, Nikola Vucevic displaced former Magic star Shaquille O’Neal as the record-holder for rebounds in a game with a jaw-dropping 29 boards on Dec. 31, 2012.
Now in his fifth season with the Magic, Vucevic has once again moved past O’Neal on the rebounding records list in franchise history.
The 7-footer entered Monday night needing just five boards to move past O’Neal for second in rebounding in Magic history. Vucevic, Orlando’s longest-tenured player, has led the Magic in rebounding in each of his five seasons playing for the franchise. He averaged a career-best 11.9 boards a game in 2012-13 and has since posted rebounding averages of 11.0, 10.9, 8.9 and 10.4 boards a game in his Magic career.
“It means a lot to me, especially with Shaq being one of the greatest players of all time and him being a center and me being a center,’’ Vucevic said of rising to second in franchise history. “He’s done a lot for this (Magic) franchise and to surpass someone like him means a lot to me. Rebounding is something that I take a lot of pride in and to be second all-time in this franchise’s history is special. It’s even more special with the big men who have played for this franchise have been great players. That’s a huge achievement for myself.’’
O’Neal, who played for Orlando from 1992-96, had 3,691 rebounds while wearing the Magic pinstripes. The all-time leader, Dwight Howard grabbed 8,072 rebounds in 621 games from 2004-12. Howard averaged 13 rebounds a game while playing for the Magic, while O’Neal grabbed 12.5 rebounds a game on average and Vucevic has averaged 10.7 boards a game.
TV TALK: Continued contract negotiations between Fox and Charter/Spectrum could keep a segment of fans from being able to watch the Magic’s season-ending game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
Fox and Charter/Spectrum, who have spent weeks trying to hammer out a deal going forward, agreed to an extension of their talks deadline last week so that bargaining could continue through Monday. That allowed Fox Sports Florida, the exclusive home to Magic basketball, to televise Orlando’s game against Indiana on Saturday.
Another extension was agreed to prior to Monday’s 7 p.m. deadline, allowing the Magic’s game in Chicago against the Bulls to avoid being blacked out for Spectrum viewers in the Orlando area.
However, if the two sides don’t have an agreement by Wednesday, the Magic’s regular-season finale against the Pistons would also be blacked out for Spectrum subscribers. The blackout does not affect Central Florida residents who use DIRECTTV as their local television provider.
The Magic have been monitoring the contract talks and the blackout effect on fans’ abilities to see the games.
“We are aware that Spectrum (formerly Bright House Networks) and Fox are in discussions to continue their agreement,’’ a Magic spokesman said in a release. “We are hopeful that an amicable resolution can be reached quickly, which will provide fans continued great coverage. We are as disappointed as anyone and we encourage fans to contact their local cable operator.’’
TERRENCE’S TRANSITION: Ask any NBA player and they would likely say that changing teams in the middle of the season is one of the most difficult things to do as a professional athlete. However, Magic guard Terrence Ross said his transition from Toronto to Orlando hasn’t been nearly as difficult as one might imagine.
Ross, 26, spent the first 4 ½ years of his NBA career with the Raptors before being traded to Orlando on Feb. 14 for power forward Serge Ibaka.
In Toronto, Ross was expected to play a complementary role and fit in as a reserve behind all-star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. In Orlando, Ross has been more of a focal point on the team, getting more plays calls and shots under head coach Frank Vogel’s directives. The 6-foot-7 guard came into Monday averaging 13.4 points in 22 games with the Magic – up from the 9.9 points he scored while playing off Toronto’s bench. Also, Ross is getting 11.8 shots a game now as opposed to the 8.6 tries he notched in Toronto.
Ross said it’s been quite easy to fit in in an Orlando offense that is perfectly suited for him. Vogel implemented an up-tempo, small-ball lineup in mid-February after acquiring Ross, and he said that has made things easy for him.
“I’m just playing the game, really. Once you know how to play ball, everything just kind of falls into place,’’ Ross said. “I pretty much try to just stay out of my teammates way and just play.’’
Ross recently purchased a home in Central Florida and he hopes to spend most of the offseason in Orlando so that he can work out at the team’s headquarters. Doing that will help him better familiarize himself with his teammates. That, the mild-mannered Ross noted, should make it easier for him to take on more of a leadership role next season.
“Next year, I’m going to do that and try to lead by example and really bring my experience to the team,’’ Ross said of his future with the Magic. “If that’s the role that they want me to play, then I will play it.’’
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.