All-Star weekend is upon us and Magic fans can take this weekend to celebrate the several players being recognized as examples of a franchise peaking, to honor Orlando’s several All-Stars, and reflect on how well-run this franchise is.
Alternatively, we could drink heavily, and ignore the media inquiries that will start to gnaw at what pride remains in being an Orlando fan (aside: I find the “Dwight will leave Orlando and play for a warm-weather team in a tax-free state” argument a particularly charming sort of reasoning).
Since this is such a mixed occasion for Orlando fans — the city itself and the beautiful arena are being celebrated while the franchise is in a bizarre crucible of media speculation — I took the liberty of transcribing last night’s Magic players only pseudo All-Star events. These events were not open to the media but rather staged by the Magic players, for the Magic players, so that each could take part in something resembling All-Star festivities. All-Star festivities, that is, that do not take place at 3 AM in a club.
Anyway, what follows is my recounting of the first annual Orlando Magic Starzz Competition, which pit Magic players against each other in an array of fun contests resembling the All-Star Weekend.
Just so we’re all on the same page, I’m making this up.
Magic players Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon, and Ish Smith dribbled around a series of obstacles staged inside of Amway Center, with the winner being the fastest around the track.
The Skills challenge was one of the less exciting contests of the night, as runaway favorite Jameer Nelson had the contest on ice early on. He began with a fairly impressive display of ball control through the cones as Duhon seemed preoccupied with throwing ball after ball directly into where the media ordinarily sit. Coaches and teammates called out “Chris, dribble forward, man — that’s the point!” as he continued hurling each ball into the stands with a sheepish grin on his face.
With Smith keeping Nelson honest into the shuttle run portion of the course, Jameer seemed to have rediscovered some of his old agility, deftly hitting each spot with a series of low and agile crossovers. However, heading into the third obstacle, security tackled Ish Smith, not recognizing him from any games and refusing to believe he was an actual NBA player. This left Jameer to cross the finish line uncontested, whereupon he missed the final layup and fell down.
Magic players Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, and Jason Richardson competed in a judged competition to ascertain who could throw down the most creative and pleasing dunk.
The dunk contest was the most hotly anticipated competition of the night, as Orlando boasted two former dunk contest staples in Richardson and Howard, while Clark had been intriguing fans for years with his unique blend of size and athleticism.
The first round was both exciting and a sad disappointment, because though Howard and Clark began the competition with basic but vicious throwdowns, Richardson found himself unable to complete a single dunk, repeatedly hammering the ball into the front of the rim as fans and teammates politely looked away. Howard and Clark were given 9.8s for their performance, while Richardson was given courtesy 8s and was eliminated.
In the second round, Clark showed his potential, throwing down a sprawling Tomahawk from a foot inside the free throw line. Howard kept pace by having Anthony Carter throw an alley-oop from halfcourt which he finished with a reverse, reaching above the square on the backboard to retrieve the pass.
In the final round, Clark inexplicably refused to do anything but shoot jumpers from the elbow, despite repeated admonishment from all involved. Scores of fans implored Clark to use his athleticism as he earnestly flung shot after shot from the elbow.
Though Clark was disqualified, Dwight insisted on performing his final dunk, for which he brought in a tractor-trailer filled with 2,200 people dressed as Gatorade bottles. Howard took forty minutes jumping over each fan individually before finishing with an uninspired one-handed slam. Either legitimately awed by this feat of endurance or pimping the event for the sponsors, announcer Kenny Smith screamed as if he’d seen the messiah himself, yelling “IT’S OVER! EVERYBODY DRINK G2!”
Asked how he was inspired to come up with the dunk, Howard just said “Gatorade sponsored this, right? Gatorade!”
Magic players J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson were each given stations of basketballs from behind the three point line to see who could hit the most shots.
The three point contest was easily the most competitive of the night. Both Redick and Anderson began by hitting shot after shot without interruption, and indeed appeared poised to keep doing so until Glen Davis ran onto the court and began pilfering basketballs off the racks and shooting himself. Multiple teammates yelled to Glen that he was taking shots from decent shooters, while two or three fans yelled back that Davis had championship experience.
Once a glowering Davis was coerced off the court by Stan Van Gundy, Anderson and Redick resumed shooting. Aside from one ten-shot stretch where not one single shot dropped, the two put on a beautiful display of shooting, and the score was so close it was not immediately clear who won. Inexplicably, Otis Smith descended to the court to explain that Glen Davis had won the contest.
Smith said, “Glen brings a lot of championship experience and also is friends with Dwight Howard, so I am motivated to keep him happy.”
Check us out next year for a recap of the second annual Orlando Magic Starzz Competition, featuring Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, and a few low first-round picks, with Brooklyn Nets guest announcers Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. I FEEL REALLY GOOD ABOUT THE COMING WEEKS FOR THE MAGIC, YOU GUYS.
Game of the Week
Blazers 97, Hawks 77
I traveled to Portland last week and was finally able to see my first live, in-person NBA game. While the game itself was fairly unremarkable, I had a blast and am now unwilling to live in a non-NBA city for the foreseeable future. Some highlights of my experience:
The halftime flyball show. Flyball is the competition where spazzy dogs who are otherwise insufferable briefly do a relay race where they jump over gates and retrieve a tennis ball. Although team Tail Blazers got the better of Muddy Paws for most of the event, it was clear that Muddy Paws was running an adorable Corgi as their anchor simply for cute value. In the final heat, when the lovable but stumpy Corgi was replaced, Muddy Paws cruised to an easy victory.
Entering the game, after having a few drinks, I attempted to carry my fiancé up a hill outside the Rose Garden. So exuberant was I that I forgot that ALL GROUND IN PORTLAND IS DEADLY MUD, and I fell, dropping my fiancée directly on her head on the sidewalk and ensuring that I spent the rest of my visit with a broom crutch like Omar from The Wire. The lady was a sport, though, remaining for the duration of the game despite obvious post-concussion syndrome.
Only two this week — and no Carlo. Carlo, wherever you are, tell your captors we will negotiate! No price is too high for your return! Guys, seriously though, I love Brian and Greg and Carlo, but let’s pick it up on the submissions here.
What do you think the Magic will do before the trade deadline?
I say Steve Nash or bust. Dwight and Ryan are untouchable, but anybody else is up for discussion. I get the implications of what that means for next year but as things stand next year’s pretty irrelevant. Nash may not be enough to get us over the top, and the Magic may not have enough assets to get Nash. But we’re not winning it all with the squad we have. So if we can’t get Nash (or another top tier PG) then I say we move Dwight and move on.”
Agree and disagree, senor Garamond. I think the idea of “top tier PG or bust” is legitimate, more or less, but I don’t think we have the assets to acquire a top tier PG (UH-OH, SOMEBODY’S USING THE FAN ‘WE’).
Nash, though, is a unique case, because he may mean enough to the Suns that if he were to ask out, he could be had for relatively little. Also, he’s going to be a free agent, and they may feel that anything they can get before he walks is found money.
HOWEVER. I don’t think this will probably happen, and I don’t think that necessarily means the team has to move Dwight. Failing the addition of guard talent, I think the Magic could potentially convince Dwight that help is on the way by throwing the max at him, letting him realize he doesn’t pay taxes, and dismantling the rest of the roster. If they move some guys at the deadline so that they can tell Dwight over the summer that they’re dedicated to creating space RIGHT NOW, I think they’d have their best shot at keeping him.
All said, I think the combined probabilities of the Magic acquiring a PG or tearing down their roster is around 40 percent — I think it’s slightly more likely that Dwight leaves by whatever scenario.
I understand that the Oscars are coming up soon; at least, that’s what I overhear people in my office saying. For various reasons, I don’t go to many movies these days. I am wondering if any of the nominees are must-see material? For what it’s worth, I tend to be pretty easily entertained by any film that isn’t a complete pile of garbage, but I also tend to prefer just hanging out at home watching League Pass.
Brian, I also usually pass on going to the movies these days. I love my Netflix, and I still consider myself a film nerd-lite, but I’ve become so suspicious of Oscar-baiting big-budget movies that I hardly ever drop the money to see them in theaters. That said, I am going to give what I imagine the summary to be for a few of the movies I think are nominated for things:
THE ARTIST — This is a boring silent movie that follows the rise of the protagonist as he transitions from starry-eyed young lad to wistful auteur. It is in black and white, and it “taps into the joyful insecurity of creative volatility.” It wins best picture.
WAR HORSE — This is a semi-boring “epic” in the tradition of large romantic Hollywood war movies that follows the rise of the protagonist from starry-eyed young lad to wistful soldier. Throughout the movie, the boy shows a loyalty to his horse, who returns the loyalty with a stunning depth and compassion. Many people showcase their sensitivity by claiming to have teared up at this movie, even though they like never cry at movies.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE — A starry-eyed young man has like autism or something, and he is accompanied by a wistful old man who helps him come to terms with the chaos of 9/11. Though the film is cloying and insensitive, it was nominated because of some veteran character actor doing what everybody agrees is amazing work in a bad film.
I am determined not to even look up a single thing about the Oscars to answer your question, Brian, and those are all the movies I can think of off the top of my head. All must-sees!
NOTICE: We have stopped getting emails from GreenHitz.com, which is a blessing, but I did receive a message from “Islam Religion.” It was a link to a video that will apparently reshape my spiritual life, and it was signed “Thank you, Islam Religion.” Islam Religion has rococo tastes in how many colors of font they should use in an email. It is efforts like these which help me find faith in a chaotic world, Islam Religion.
Enjoy All-Star Weekend, and we’ll do this again next week.
Step up your email game, readers: mbnhoops[at]gmail[dot]com with anything at all you want me to answer.