On Saturday, St. Bonaventure University, his alma mater, retired his jersey. Fans packed the school’s gym to watch the Bonnies play Rhode Island and honor Nicholson as school officials unfurled a NICHOLSON 44 banner from the rafters.
“It’s awesome,” Nicholson said Sunday. “It’s something I wanted to do as a freshman, and I’m glad it happened.”
Nicholson and his family attended the event.
He walked onto the court, where he was greeted by the school’s mascot, Bona Wolf, which was wearing Nicholson’s Magic jersey. Fans stood on the arena’s bleachers. He was handed a microphone and spoke to the crowd, telling them, “You guys are like family to me here from the beginning, and this is definitely something I’ll always remember.” Then, he stood between his parents, Fabian and Colmaleen Nicholson, during the ceremony.
“I was extremely happy,” the Magic forward said today. “I can’t really describe it.”
Nicholson is a Canadian citizen. He grew up in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, Ontario, and rooted for the Raptors, Blue Jays and Maple Leafs as a kid.
This morning, the Magic held their game-day shootaround inside Air Canada Centre just after Canada won the gold medal in men’s ice hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Next to the arena, red-and-white-clad fans assembled in Maple Leaf Square and watched on a giant video board as Canada beat Sweden 3-0.
Fans exchanged high-fives. They even cheered when disgraced Toronto Mayor Rob Ford walked through the square. Taxi drivers honked their horns. People wrapped themselves in Canada’s flag.
Nicholson never played hockey as a kid, but he took pride in the victory.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It means a lot. We’re known for hockey, and I’m just proud of those guys.”
The Magic had no problems getting from their hotel to the arena Sunday morning. On Saturday night at dinner, some players ran into Canada hockey fans who couldn’t stop talking about the upcoming gold-medal game.
“It just lets you know that sports play a big role in people’s lives,” said Magic big man Kyle O’Quinn. “Those fans were pumped up last night. Some of them couldn’t even eat their dinner. They were so pumped about this morning. It’s good to see they’re coming back with gold.”
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.