Brad Barr - US Presswire

Orlando Magic Media Day: Orlando Pinstriped Post's Coverage

The Magic are focused on starting a new era without using the word 'rebuild' in their vocabulary. CEO Alex Martins has implemented this idea with all of the Orlando Magic personnel.

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Magic Media Day: OPP Tops Rookie in iPhone Game

After snooping through Andrew Nicholson's Twitter account a couple of months ago, I couldn't help but notice the Orlando Magic rookie plays one of my favorite pastimes on the iPhone: Words with Friends.

I'll be honest, I don't know how Words with Friends blew up in popularity over the years, considering it's nearly identical to Scrabble.

I believe the dictionary varies between Scrabble and Words with Friends. Or maybe Zynga got dibs to build the smartphone app first, before Scrabble even had the chance to. Wait, does it even matter?

Back to the story, I saw Nicholson had posted screenshots of the game a couple of months ago, in which he appeared to be slaughtering his opponents.

See Andrew Nicholson berating his Words with Friends opponents here.


My first thought was, "Here's a guy entering the NBA with a degree in physics from St. Bonaventure University. A rarity. Not to mention, he plays Words with Friends? He has to be a word-nerd like me. I mean, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I think I could put him in his place."

When I first started playing Words with Friends, I lost a handful of games - yes, I know exactly what's running through your mind:

"How the hell is it possible for a writer to not be able to win games in Words with Friends? Aren't writers supposed to be articulate with their words?"

I'm not shy to admit my losing streaks. It probably took at least 15-20 games for me to understand the different offensive and defensive strategies. You could say it's like practicing for standardized tests, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the American College Test.


Where's Allen Iverson when you need him?

"Yeah, I'm talkin' 'bout practice."

So, I dared Nicholson to play Words with Friends with me over the summer. Initially, he had a lead until I somehow went on a deep run to prevent him from winning.


"I have like 20 to 30 games going on at once, so I'm trying just trying to keep up." Nicholson said during the Orlando Magic media day.

When asked if Nicholson was good at the Zynga app, he said:

"I think I'm okay." Nicholson said. "I'm not a pro, but I'm better on the court than I am with that game."

All right, there is no way I can compete against a guy who is exactly a foot taller than me. I wasn't gifted with such physical prowess. I can't post-up anyone for what it's worth. Nicholson can beat me in that aspect, but I don't think he can outwit my savviness in Words with Friends.

In fact, there is a 2nd rematch happening as I type this. Nicholson just pulled out a 33-point word from his arsenal.


Though for now the record stands clear:

Khanna - 1, Nicholson - 0

Reporter's note: Orlando Sentinel sports columnist Brian Schmitz reported a while ago about former Magic's player development director Adonal Foyle frequently schooling players such as Vince Carter, J.J. Redick, or even Mickael Pietrus in Words with Friends. Foyle had the nerve to embarrass Ryan Anderson, who originally taught him how to play the game. Then again, Foyle has always been a man with a voracious appetite for books. He's the guy who would place an education on a pedestal before daring to gun a 3-pointer.


Magic Media Day: J.J. Redick on the Heat

Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick happens to be one of those guys who really hates to lose basketball games. Of course, you can say that about any professional athlete, but really, Redick has the tendency to be hard on himself when it comes to losing.

"At the end of every season I look in the mirror and ask myself what can I do better?" Redick asked. "Where did I screw up this year? Why are we still not playing? What could I have done to help us beat Indiana? I think about all those things and I think for the most part everybody should be thinking about that." (per WYGM in Orlando, via SRI)

But if there's one thing that truly got under Redick's skin, it was watching the Miami Heat take home the championship last season. Although he respects the fact that the Magic's fiery division rivals were the inevitable champions, he does hope the chatter about them settles down.

"Hopefully we can all stop talking about that for a while." Redick said at Media Day. "LeBron [James] has his championship. I've known him since he was 15, so I'm happy for LeBron. I hate seeing the Heat win, but they deserved it."


Magic Media Day: Jameer Nelson Ready for New Role

Spending his entire career in Orlando for the last eight years, there was no doubt in mind for Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan to keep point guard Jameer Nelson. If anything, it’s because Nelson fits the franchise’s mantra, a mantra that has been repeatedly stated ever since the changes in the front office occurred.

“We want guys who want to play here.”

And there’s no question that Nelson will be the captain and vocal leader for the team. He wants to help the rookies transition into the NBA with ease.

“I know I am going to have to do some things differently than a little more in different areas, but I don’t know what yet..." Nelson said. "Even in pick up (ball) for the last two weeks, I’ve been trying to teach guys because obviously our coaches weren’t allowed to be there, so I was trying to show guys some of the things we do in the NBA by trying to help them translate their college games to their NBA games.”


Magic Media Day: Glen Davis Speaks

After playing for most of his career with the Boston Celtics and having won an NBA championship already on his resume, Glen "Big Baby" Davis already embraces new head coach Jacque Vaughn for who he is and what he has up his sleeve for the season.

“The mindset for what he has for this team is right up my alley and that is understanding the way to play, understanding how we’ve got to play, and then just his mindset.” Davis said. “Everything he is saying right now is catering to the future in building a culture. And I love it.”

Davis also is aware of the new era the Orlando Magic will somehow try to blossom for the upcoming years ahead. At media day he personified the development of a baby in its walking stages and how it resembles what the franchise and what the players (especially the new ones) will be going through for the long term.

“Right now, you’ve got to take one step at a time.” Davis said. “Right now, it’s like a baby. A baby doesn’t come out walking; the baby crawls first. Not even a ‘Big Baby’; he crawls first. Then the baby starts to get more confident. The repetition is walking. He takes a step, and then next thing you know the confidence grows; takes another step, the stronger he gets, and then next thing you know, he’s walking...that’s the mindset we have to have. Keep trying everyday, no matter what. If we fall, no matter what, if we bump our heads, we’re going to run one day.”


Magic Media Day: Fans Expect "Adventure," Says GM

For the past five years the Orlando Magic surely had their share of successful days under the Dwight Howard-Stan Van Gundy era. While Van Gundy was head coach, he was able to get his team to win approximately 65.4-percent of the games they played from 2007-12.

Generally speaking, fans want their teams to win; for most Magic fans, however, it will be an uncomfortable road ahead. Or for the optimistic Magic fan, the franchise will see an invigorating change in the future, now that the tables have turned for the organization in every facet possible.

Let's be honest here though, and I apologize in advance for being so blunt to any Orlando fan: don't expect this team to clinch a seed in the postseason, at least for this year and who knows, maybe next year?

As CEO Alex Martins said earlier during Media day, the franchise is not in a rebuild mode, but rather it's in a transient period.

In fact, newly appointed head coach Jacque Vaughn said he wouldn't be disappointed if the team didn't make the playoffs this season.

"I think it will be a disappointment if I don’t see my guys improve." Vaughn said. "I’m not going to put a number on games, signifying us making the playoffs, I don’t know how many games are going to take to make the playoffs. I don’t know how many games we’re going to win. For me, the culture is built around doing your job every single day to get better."

If you want to enjoy the games, your best bet is to focus on a specific player's performance and observe how he improves over a stretch of games, or even from previous seasons.

"We’re not sure who is going to be our leading scorer." Vaughn said.

Uncertainty lingers in the air as Magic fans will be seeing a new group of guys who haven't played together in set rotations or interacted from a personal standpoint. We've only seen snippets of the newcomers like rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson and rookie center Kyle O'Quinn play for Orlando's frontcourt during the summer league - and of course, we've already seen last season's squad of veterans such as Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu or Glen Davis play in unison.

Hennigan, however, isn't worried at all for what's to come in this new chapter for the Magic.

"Well, I think it’s a team our fans are going to root for because they’re going to play the right way: they’re going to play unselfish, they’re going to compete with everything they’ve got, and it’s going to be from a team effort. I think that’s sometimes refreshing." Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan said at Media Day. "I think everybody can expect a lot of adventure and a lot of fun in the days ahead. We’re in a position here where there’s some unknown and there’s a lot of opportunity for our guys to earn minutes and create a niche for themselves. I think it’s a time where the team is taking its shape and taking its form. We’ll see how it works."


Magic Media Day: CEO Martins Offers His Outlook

The Magic are focused on starting a new era without using the word 'rebuild' in their vocabulary. CEO Alex Martins has implemented this idea with all of the Orlando Magic personnel.

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