Veteran Robin Lopez looks forward to helping Magic through youth movement

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During his introductory Zoom press conference with the Orlando Magic media Wednesday, Robin Lopez referred to himself as a relief pitcher.

The 7-foot, 281-pound Lopez, entering his 14th season, said he is not just in Orlando to help make the Magic’s young centers better but everyone.

“I’ve always like the think of myself as a utility guy. Whatever the teams needs I attempt to fill that role,” said Lopez, 33. “[A relief pitcher isn’t] playing every night, necessarily, but they’re going in there making an impact when the team needs them.”

Lopez has played on seven NBA teams. He’s not a No. 1 option in the post and he’s not a floor-spacing big like his brother, Brook, a 7-footer who lives at the 3-point line in Milwaukee. Robin Lopez, however, has always been a steady contributor.

Playing mostly as a reserve last season with the Washington Wizards, Lopez averaged 9.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 71 games. That’s close to his career averages of 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds.

“I’ve embraced being the vet on a few teams now and it’s something I look forward to here,” said the oldest player on Orlando’s roster. “I like to lead by example. I’ll be verbal when I have to ... whatever the situation calls for.”

The Magic have depth at center but Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter and Mo Wagner are young and unproven. Lopez is a more physical presence who seeks out contact in the paint and has developed a go-to move (a hook shot).

“I’m looking forward to that and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Lopez said. “I’m going to do what I can.Once the ball is tipped off and we see everybody in action, that’s going to help everybody out. It’s going to help me have a idea of what people’s strengths are.”

Before signing a one-year, $5 million deal to join the Magic, Lopez knew what first-year coach Jamahl Mosley president Jeff Weltman wanted out of him.

He should feel right at home in Orlando. It’s no secret that Robin Lopez and his twin brother Brook Lopez share an unbridled affection for all things Disney.

Brook Lopez even owns a home on Disney property in Orlando.

“I grew up in Southern California, so we would make trips to Disneyland a few times a year,” Robin Lopez said. “My older brothers, my aunts, my mom ... they’ve always loved art, drawing, writing, cartooning so I grew up around all of that.

“Of course I came up during the Disney Renaissance with Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid and later on Pixar Disney Afternoon. The big factor was having a twin brother, sharing a room with Brook and we would bounce this stuff off each other all the time, 24/7.”

What he’s looking forward to as a fixture in Orlando is getting to know the rest of the community outside the reaches of Disney property.

“I’m excited,” Lopez said. “A lot of my trips [to Orlando] have been in and out, so to get to go there on a deeper level and find out the other facets of Orlando ... really looking forward to that.”

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