Cole Anthony, Magic campaign for Nikola Vucevic to make All-Star Game

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Cody Taylor
·3 min read
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Before taking any questions from reporters, Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony delivered a message unprompted to fans after just witnessing teammate Nikola Vucevic achieve a career night.

The message, according to Anthony, is simple: Vote for Vucevic.

“That man deserves to be an All-Star,” Anthony said. “He is the best big in the league. Come on! What are we doing? Come on!”

Vucevic on Friday produced a career-high 43 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 123-119 win over the Chicago Bulls. He became just the third player in team history to record 43 points and 19 rebounds in a game, joining Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

The 10-year veteran, collectively referred to as “Vooch” by teammates and fans alike, is off to the best start of his career.

Through the first 23 games of the season, Vucevic is averaging a career-high 23.4 points and 11.5 rebounds. He ranks 23rd among all players in scoring and eighth in rebounding, but despite the hot start, didn’t place among the early leaders in All-Star voting this week.

The lack of recognition hasn’t sat well with Anthony, and the rookie is taking matters into his own hands.

“I think every person on this team is rooting for him to be an All-Star,” Anthony said. “We’re not just in the locker room talking and then someone is randomly like, ‘I hope Vooch is an All-Star.’ We’re all thinking it. We see it on social media. I’ve gone and voted for him every single day, twice — as many times as I could vote. I’m trying to do my part. We definitely want to see him be an All-Star. I 100% think he deserves it.”

Anthony wasn’t alone in his All-Star advocation. Magic forward James Ennis III also implored fans to vote Vucevic into the starting lineup while guard Evan Fournier joined in, as well.

Vucevic is often overlooked among the national media and outsiders for a variety of reasons, but the longest-tenured member of the Magic is more concerned with the respect he gains from teammates and his peers.

All-Star or not, having the support of his teammates means everything.

“It means a lot,” Vucevic said. “Two years ago, when I was playing well [and was named an All-Star], they were all doing the same thing. It’s always great to see that. … When you have the support of your teammates, that’s the most important thing. They see you every day. They see the work you put in, they see how dedicated you are. When you earn their respect, that’s very important.”

All-Star voting, which is up 70% this year, kicked off on Jan. 28 and will run through Feb. 16. Fans account for 50% of the vote to determine the five starters from each conference, while all current players and a panel of media members will each account for 25% of the vote.

Vucevic will likely need the help of the NBA head coaches, who determine the reserve players, to make his second All-Star Game, but as long as he has his teammates in his corner, that may be all that is needed for him.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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