On Kendrick Lamar’s debut album, he dedicates an entire song to Orlando Magic point guard Arron Afflalo. In his song “Black Boy Fly,” Lamar talks about how he used to look up to Afflalo when he was growing up as Afflalo was a standout basketball player.
“I used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo
He was the one to follow
He was the only leader for seeing brighter tomorrows
He would live in the gym
We was living in sorrow
Total envy of him
He made a dream become a reality
Actually making it possible to swim
He way out of Compton with further more to accomplish
Graduate with honors, a sponsor of basketball scholars
It’s 2004 and I’m watching him score 30
Remember vividly how them victory points had hurt me
Cause every basket was a reaction or a reminder
That we was just moving backwards”
While Afflalo didn’t make an immediate impact in the league as a reserve guard in Detroit, he did enjoy a serviceable career in Denver as a starter. Down the stretch last season, Afflalo was arguably Denver’s best player. Over his time in Denver, he developed into a shutdown defender on the perimeter and shot .41 percent from the arc.
Afflalo had improved so much that he and Al Harrington were involved in a surprising August trade that saw them go to Orlando as part of a multi-team deal. The Nuggets return on the deal was All-Star and Olympian Andre Iguodala. Afflalo, who was nicknamed the Rattlesnake in Denver, makes his return tonight as the Magic travel to the Pepsi Center. Coach George Karl and the rest of the Nuggets are hoping their former teammate doesn’t strike on them tonight.
Karl told the Denver Post that Afflalo was going to try to score 50 points tonight against them.At the rate he’s been going, it’s not out of the question. To say the Magic are rebuilding would be an understatement as they’ve lost nine straight games, but Afflalo has been a bright spot as he’s averaged 22.2 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting over that time.
In the Magic’s struggling offense, Afflalo has more opportunities to be the go-to guy compared to when he was in Denver. While it is a return for Afflalo, it’s also a chance for payback for the Nuggets as the Magic defeated them in their lone game earlier this year 102-89.
While Afflalo may say all the right things about “it’s a business” and “it’s just another game,” truth is, deep down you know he wants this game more than any other. Afflalo is sure to leave it all on the court in order to upset his old team. That kind of work ethic shows why not just Lamar, but fans in Denver looked up to him as well.