Frank Vogel offered Jim O'Brien job with Magic last summer

Orlando Sentinel |

--The Orlando Magic's loss turned out to be the Philadelphia 76ers' gain this past offseason when the Sixers hired Jim O'Brien to work as their lead assistant coach.

Magic coach Frank Vogel had offered O'Brien a job as a consultant to the Magic's coaching staff. In that arrangement, O'Brien would've been in Orlando for a large portion of the preseason and for about one week a month during the regular season.

Vogel called O'Brien "my No. 1 mentor in my life professionally and personally" before Vogel's Magic faced O'Brien's Sixers on Monday night at Amway Center.

O'Brien was instrumental in getting Vogel a job as a student-manager at the University of Kentucky in the mid-1990s. And Vogel subsequently worked as an assistant coach on O'Brien's coaching staffs with the Boston Celtics, the 76ers and the Indiana Pacers.

O'Brien would've accepted Vogel's offer to work for the Magic, but the Sixers offered O'Brien their lead assistant coaching position.

"I would have absolutely been with Frank right now if this opportunity with Brett Brown and the 76ers had not come along," O'Brien said. "One of the things that Frank knew was I pretty much did not want to be moving around the country having to set up my life in a different city. That's why he offered me the consulting job: because I could pretty much come and go the way I wanted to come and go.

"The Philadelphia job [worked] because we have homes [in Philadelphia], and it's my hometown city. It was just a perfect opportunity for me to jump back with somebody I really believe in and what they're trying to do here with the Sixers. So when this opportunity came, it kind of trumped the opportunity that Frank put in front of me."

Brown, the Sixers' head coach, said O'Brien has made a positive impact in Philadelphia.

"He's a veteran NBA coach," Brown said. "He's Philly born and bred. He gets the city. He gets the league. He comes in with a wisdom born out of many, many years of experience."

Meeks returns

Magic shooting guard Jodie Meeks checked into Monday's game with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter.



What would've been routine to most players -- stepping onto the court during a regular-season game -- was a milestone for the 29-year-old shooting guard.

Meeks hadn't played since he dislocated the thumb on his shooting hand on and underwent surgery six days later. To his credit, he returned to play as quickly as he could, even though he could've shut himself down for the remainder of the season.

Meeks' contract will expire after this season.

"I think it's good to show that I'm healthy," Meeks said. "But as far as being a free agent, I don't think about that type of stuff. That stuff will take care of itself. I like it here, like the coaching staff, like my teammates. I just want to enjoy the last 12 games, or however many we have left, with this group. And this summer will take care of itself. I'm not really worried about that."

Little-known fact

Magic swingman Evan Fournier felt especially pleased for Meeks.

Fournier knows exactly what Meeks went through.

In 2009, Fournier had surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb, and Fournier still has a long scar on the edge of his thumb to prove it. Fournier's thumb surgery is a little-known fact here in the United States since his injury and the surgery occurred when Fournier played professionally in his home country.

"I'm happy for him that he's feeling better," Fournier said. "I had a similar injury a long time ago when I was back in France. So I know it's not fun at all. He's looking good, man."

Layups

--Sixers rookie Dario Saric was a nominee for Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for games played through Sunday. Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside won the award.

--On , the Sixers defeated the Magic 112-111 after Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell made a game-winning pull-up jumper in the lane with 5.8 seconds to go. "Anytime somebody beats us on our home floor, we want to respond to that," Vogel said. "We want to come back and not let it happen again and make sure we're taking care of our business at home."

jrobbins@orlandosentinel.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

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