Jameer Nelson sat out his fourth consecutive game when the Orlando Magic hosted the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, but Nelson received some positive news on his sore left knee earlier in the day.
Nelson underwent an MRI exam, and the exam revealed no problems.
"It's gotten better," Nelson said before tipoff. "The swelling is going down. I got an MRI today to make sure everything was fine, because the swelling wasn't going down. So everything looks positive and I'm shooting to play on Friday."
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As a part of their ongoing 25th-anniversary celebration, the Magic honored former player Grant Hill between the first and second quarters.
Fans gave Hill some light applause. Only a smattering of the fans stood to cheer.
Hill said he had no trepidation about accepting the team's invitation even though Magic fans never forgave him for the injury problems he faced during his seven-year tenure with the team. Fans also didn't forgive Hill for signing with the Phoenix Suns following the 2006-07 season.
In a pregame news conference, Hill confirmed something that former Magic general manager Otis Smith told Sports Illustrated in 2009: Hill was interested in returning to the Magic after the 2006-07 season, but the Magic didn't want him back because team officials wanted to accelerate Dwight Howard's and Nelson's growth as leaders.
"[Howard and Nelson] were nice people and they were so respectful and they deferred [to me]," Hill said. "So wearing my general manager's hat, I understand that sometimes you've got a big brother who has to get out of the way so the little brothers can grow up. So from an organization's standpoint, I totally understand that and get that. And I think for me it was probably a good thing, too."
Hill also recounted some stories from his career.
He described — without any bitterness — the frosty reception he received on Nov. 10, 2007, when he returned with the Phoenix Suns to play the Magic at Amway Arena.
"In the layup line, every time I touched the ball the fans would boo," Hill said. "So my teammates kept throwing me the ball. So I'm in the rebounding line and they keep throwing me the ball. We got a big kick out of it."
Hill, who is a partner in an Orlando-based private investment firm and works as a basketball analyst for Turner Sports, was asked whether he has any interest in becoming a general manager or a coach one day.
"No, I'm enjoying my life," he said. "I have no stress on my body right now. The life of a general manager is quite difficult. You never say never, I guess. I think there were some opportunities that presented themselves this past offseason, not in a prominent role but sort of in a management position. But when you've played 19 years, you need to kind of decompress a little bit and kind of get away from it because it's a grind."
On Tuesday, the Magic faced an obstacle in addition to the Blazers: fatigue.
The Magic played a pair of back-to-back games in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles over the weekend and then arrived at Orlando International Airport at 5:30 Monday morning. Although Magic players had Monday off, it would've been understandable if the team entered tipoff Tuesday night feeling exhausted.
"I think I was asleep [Monday] until about 4 or 5 o'clock, and it was hard to fall asleep last night," second-year small forward Maurice Harkless said. "But you've got to just pretty much just try to get sleep any way you can."
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