Mama Kay’s real name is Kay Kellogg. You might remember her from this column. She is 62, dying of cancer and had just a single item on her bucket list. Her one dying wish was to meet her hero, Dwight [Howard], before she passed away.
Dwight found out about it and visited her home a few weeks ago. He was scheduled to stay for 30 minutes, but ended up staying a couple of hours because the two fast friends talked and laughed so much that they lost track of time. [...]
But before Dwight left her home that day a few weeks ago, she told him to say a prayer for her so that she could live long enough to see him play the first game in the new arena Sunday night. You see, she has been diagnosed with the advanced stages of Multiple Myeloma, an inoperable, incurable form of cancer that destroys the blood plasma in the bone marrow. She was given only a month or two to live.
Well, guess who was in the brand new Amway Center Sunday night, sitting there courtside courtesy of the Magic. wearing her favorite No. 12 Dwight Howard jersey and rooting her team on to a 54-point victory over the New Orleans Hornets? Mama Kay, that’s who. And you should have seen the look on Dwight’s face when he saw her.
“She told me, ‘I made it!’ ” Howard said with a joyful smile splashed across his face. “She was just so excited to be here and I was just so excited to see her.”
Give this story a read.
Via the Orlando Magic:
On Saturday, October 9, Grammy Award winning artist James Taylor and the legendary Boston Pops directed by Keith Lockhart performed at the Amway Center Grand Opening Gala, which raised $300,000 for the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH). The CFCH is a public/private partnership of community leaders to implement Ten2End, which is a ten year plan to end homelessness in Central Florida in the next decade. The mission of the CFCH is to continually assess and address the economic and social impact of homelessness on communities within Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando in the furtherance of its goal to end homelessness in the region within ten years.
Also announced and in celebration of the opening of the new Amway Center, volunteers from Amway and the Orlando Magic will partner to build a new KaBOOM! playground for the Orlando community. The playground will be built on April 8, 2011, in one day.
“Amway strives to make a difference in every community where we do business, and our involvement with the Amway Center is no exception,” said Amway Vice President Dana Boals. “We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with the Magic to revitalize the Parramore community and create a positive change for children.”
The new playground will provide hundreds of children in the Parramore area with a safe place to play. The playground will be the fifth built by KaBOOM! and the Magic, and the 11th built by KaBOOM! and Amway.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic possess more depth than perhaps any other team in the NBA. That’s a great thing for the coaches and fans. For a couple of players who won’t make the nightly rotation – not so much. With the Magic playing Rashard Lewis at the three and the four – which is “a good thing to do,” Stan Van Gundy said – the team will trot out a nine-man rotation on many nights.That means two of the following players will likely receive DNP-CDs on some games: Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Quentin Richardson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus. Every one of those players would qualify for the rotation on pretty much any other NBA team. All of them, except of course for Redick, played significant minutes on their previous squads. And a couple of them won’t be playing every night this season for the Magic.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic are working to make themselves less predictable when the 2011 playoffs arrive. The team already has posted-up more — and with more players — this preseason. They’re also running some sets through the elbow in which the players will have the freedom to create. [...] Van Gundy wants his team to have more flexibility as the year goes on, even on the defensive end of the court. In practice today, the team did a lot of zone defense work. The Magic worked on it in past years, but Van Gundy said players knew that Van Gundy would rarely use it during games. That could change this year.”
- The Orlando Sentinel next player preview is up. The subject? Mickael Pietrus.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post with some post-game locker room observations after the Orlando Magic thrashed the New Orleans Hornets by the score of 135-81 at the Amway Center: “The Magic’s new locker room is, as you might imagine from a $480 million building, immaculate. It’s circular, with high ceilings and a gargantuan Magic logo in the carpet at the center of the floor. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson have the cushiest arrangements, as the lockers on either side of theirs are empty, allowing them to spread out. From a practical standpoint, it also means media types can crowd around the team co-captains without blocking another player’s locker, a situation which cropped up all too often in the old Amway Arena locker room. Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk and I agree that the visiting team’s locker room at Amway Center is a tremendous upgrade over the Magic’s locker room at Amway Arena, which should give a decent idea of how nice the host’s locker room is. Still photography is not allowed in the locker room, which is why I’m stumbling all over myself trying to describe it.”
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com revisits the Vince Carter-for-Gilbert Arenas trade rumor: “Significant progress was made toward that end this past summer with Orlando, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. The framework of a trade that would’ve sent Arenas to the Magic with Vince Carter going to the Wizards was arranged, with GM Otis Smith being one of the few executives in the league willing to contemplate such a deal because of his personal relationship with Arenas. In the end, it was the cost that killed the deal; Arenas has four years and $80.1 million left on his contract, which amounts to two years and $44 million more than Carter.”
- According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com, the Magic have a chance to lead the NBA in offensive efficiency this season: “The Magic replaced Matt Barnes, a 32 percent 3-point shooter last season, with Quentin Richardson, who shot 40 percent with the Heat. They might actually have Jameer Nelson for a full season. And Dwight Howard, still just 24 years old, should continue to improve his post game.”
- Orlando has the best pre-season team ever.
- Do you believe in Magic?
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus explains the SCHOENE projection system: “We first introduced SCHOENE to project the results of the 2008-09 NBA season. While the player projection aspect is not entirely unique–ESPN Insider’s John Hollinger independently developed a similar projection system–SCHOENE goes a step further by beginning to consider team context. For each team, player usage rates are adjusted (along with efficiency) to replicate the interactions between players in divvying up offensive possessions. Another adjustment handles defensive rebounding because of the tendency for good rebounders to cannibalize defensive boards from their teammates and vice versa. While SCHOENE’s default output is per-possession or per-shot rate stats, it also incorporates team pace to produce complete, realistic stat lines for each player. This is especially useful for creating fantasy projections, since a player’s per-game averages will depend in part upon the pace at which his team plays. Finally, SCHOENE brings it all together to create team stat lines, unprecedented for an NBA projection system. This gives us an idea not only of a bottom-line projection for each team’s win-loss record but also how they will get there and projected strengths and weaknesses.”
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
There are 400 tickets remaining — including 200 priced at $15 — for the Orlando Magic’s Thursday night (Oct. 14) game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Tip-off for the second-ever Magic game in the new Amway Center is set for 7 p.m. There is no television coverage of the game.
Tickets are available for purchase:
- Online at www.orlandomagic.com
- At the Amway Center box office (located on Church St.) (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
- By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
“It’s an experience of awe.”
Those words, uttered by owner Rich DeVos during the Orlando Magic‘s television broadcast on Sun Sports, best described the feeling many Magic fans had as they witnessed the first NBA game in the brand new Amway Center. The host for the evening did not disappoint, as the Magic were able to defeat the New Orleans Hornets by the score of 135-81 to cap off a momentous occasion in the Central Florida community. As they say, you couldn’t have written a better script. Seven players for Orlando scored in double-figures, with Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, and J.J. Redick leading the way with 23 points each. Quentin Richardson will forever be in the history books for the Magic as the first player to score a basket in the new arena — a 24-foot three-point jumpshot at the 11:41 mark in the first quarter.
When looking at the box score, the question begs to be asked.
Where to begin?
In what was a sloppy outing for both teams, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Indiana Pacers by the score of 93-86 to win their 16th consecutive pre-season game dating back to the 2008-2009 NBA season. The Magic were led by a vintage performance from Vince Carter, who had 25 points on 11 shots (6-of-8 from three-point range) in less than 20 minutes of playing time. Dwight Howard was unable to build off of his dominating performance against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, finishing with a pedestrian 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks for a rather bland double-double. Ryan Anderson chipped in with 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
The major storyline to take away from this victory for Orlando was the fact that head coach Stan Van Gundy placed Rashard Lewis at small forward and Brandon Bass at power forward in the starting lineup for the first time ever. Van Gundy vowed that he would experiment with different lineups during the pre-season, and he has stayed true to his word.
Anyone thinking that Bass will actually start at power forward once the regular season begins will be in for a reality check. Lewis is the starter at the power forward position. The sole purpose of playing Lewis and Bass was to see how they would perform on the court together.
That being said, how did the alignment work out?
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “A coach known to yell actually listens a bit more these days. In an attempt to communicate better with players, Stan Van Gundy asks one or two guys on the Orlando Magic roster each day about their off-court lives. It could be about a player’s family. It could be about a player’s favorite baseball team. On Thursday, Van Gundy chatted with Vince Carter as Carter sat in the Amway Center training room. Nothing formal, just shooting the breeze. [...] After the Magic lost in the Eastern Conference finals last May, Van Gundy looked for ways he could do his job better. He put connecting more with players at the top of his list. Van Gundy can be abrasive on the court — he yells in a raspy voice and displays his emotions freely — but he wants his players to know that he cares about them off the court.”
- More from Robbins: “Tonight will provide a big test for Rashard Lewis. Lewis will start at small forward against the Indiana Pacers, coach Stan Van Gundy said after the Orlando Magic completed their shootaround moments ago at Conseco Fieldhouse. That means Lewis will have to defend Danny Granger, one of the league’s most dangerous wing players.”
- Daniel Orton has a long way to go before he can contribute for the Orlando Magic.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Losing unceremoniously the way the Orlando Magic did last spring in the Eastern Conference Finals was crushing on so many levels for the franchise. But from that rubble emerged a ray of hope for the future of the franchise and particularly superstar center Dwight Howard. After his Magic fell behind 3-0 to the Boston Celtics in the East Finals, Howard vowed that he would not let Orlando quit or go quietly in the series. Howard talked with his parents, chatted with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and even had an extensive heart-to-heart phone conversation with legendary center and new friend Hakeem Olajuwon. Their message was clear: Howard could and should do more than he ever dreamed possible and he needed to grab the game by the throat and strangle the life out of it. Howard did just that, stringing together arguably the best three games of his career. In a matter of three games, Howard scored 32, 21 and 28 points, shot 65 percent from the floor, had three double-digit rebound games and swatted 10 shots. The Magic won two of those games, but fell in a Game 6 in Boston. Howard said the way that he responded taught him something about himself, proving that he can always dig deeper into his vast well of talent. It also hardened his somewhat happy-go-lucky nature, bringing a sharpened focus and newfound intensity to his game for this season.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Every preseason, it seems, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard fires a few jumpers, stoking Magic fans who’ve long called for him to expand his range beyond the paint. And every subsequent regular season, Howard puts that jumper back on the shelf and keeps doing what he’s best at offensively that isn’t dunking, namely shooting hooks of the jump and rolling variety. Whenever asked why he’s reluctant to shoot jumpers when the games count, Howard usually mentions a lack of confidence and comfort with the shot in game situations. So when the Magic post footage of Howard working on his jump-shot with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and rookie center Daniel Orton after a preseason practice, as they did yesterday, it’s business as usual. But this case feels different.”
- Not surprisingly, Scott Carefoot of The Basketball Jones ranks Dwight Howard as the best center in the NBA: “He’s the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s led the league in rebounds per game three seasons in a row, in blocks per game two seasons in a row and in field goal percentage last season. He’s only missed three games in six seasons. Need I go on? He may never become the offensive threat Shaq was in his prime, but Shaq never led the league in rebounds or blocks and was never named Defensive Player of the Year. However, both of them have the same fatal flaw — they can’t shoot free throws. Regardless, Dwight Howard is unlikely to give up his reign as the best center in the NBA anytime soon.”
- Howard has changed. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel swears by it.
- Check out Howard’s adidas TS Beast “Superman” shoes. Two thumbs up.