Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 195

Sep 16

Orlando Magic Sign Malik Allen; Prepare for Training Camp

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic will hold their 2010-11 training camp at the new Amway Center in Orlando, beginning Tuesday, September 28. In addition, the Magic have signed free agent forward Malik Allen (#35, 6-10, 255, 6/27/78, Villanova). The roster currently stands at 15 players (roster to follow).

Practices will be held on the Magic practice court at the new Amway Center twice per day from September 28-October 3 from 9:30 a.m. until approximately noon, then and again from 4 p.m. until approximately 6 p.m. All sessions are closed to the public. [...]

On October 4, the Magic will practice from 9:30 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m., then depart for their preseason opener against Houston. Orlando begins the preseason against the Rockets in Hidalgo, Texas on Tuesday, October 5 (8:30 p.m., Sun Sports). After playing at Indiana on Friday, October 8, the Magic will host their first preseason game at the new Amway Center on Sunday, October 10 against New Orleans. Tip-off is 6 p.m. The Magic open the 2010-11 regular season at home on Thursday, October 28 against the Washington Wizards. The complete schedule is available through the team’s official website: orlandomagic.com.

Sep 16

Stanley Robinson Has an Uphill Battle in Front of Him

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Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Via Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

Stanley Robinson, whom the Orlando Magic selected with the 59th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, didn’t exactly distinguish himself in his four years at Connecticut, doesn’t have much of a jump shot, and is, to quote one team source, “deficient” in any facet of basketball which doesn’t involve the use of athleticism. He’s also the sixth forward on a fourteen-man team with championship aspirations. These factors are all working against his chances of making an impact in his rookie season. But Magic GM Otis Smith wouldn’t have drafted Robinson if he didn’t think he was at least worth a look, and by signinghim to a non-guaranteed contract well before the beginning of training camp, Smith signaled that Robinson will have an opportunity to prove himself. And John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com wrote earlier this summer that Robinson is indeed thrilled to have that chance.

The rotation for the Orlando Magic is, more or less, set in stone, aside from a possible battle at the back-up power forward position between Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass. And apart from the grand opening of the Amway Center on October 10 as well as a meeting with the Miami Heat on October 22 in Tampa, the Magic’s pre-season won’t be very eventful. But if there’s someone to keep an eye on as training camp is set to begin for Orlando in a few weeks, it’s Stanley Robinson. The only player for the Magic that will be literally fighting for his job is Robinson, given that he has an unguaranteed contract. There’s a lot of things Robinson will need to work on in order to have a successful career in the NBA, but he’ll get his chance to prove his worth soon enough.

Best of luck to him.

Sep 15

Orlando Magic Championship for Charity Golf Tournament

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Magic will host the 20th Annual Orlando Magic Championship for Charity Golf Tournament. The event is expected to have more than 200 golf participants, along with one-of-a-kind Magic auction items and an awards luncheon.

Ten children ages 8-16 representing organizations who received grants from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (Orlando Magic Youth Foundation- McCormick Foundation Fund) will be on-site from 7-8:30 a.m. They will assist the golfers in registration and with the Wyndham Vacation Ownership’s Warm-up Contest. OMYF beneficiaries represented at the course will include: A Gift for Music, Florida Hospital for Children, The Gift of Swimming, The Salvation Army, AMI Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, Jewish Family Services and Orlando Repertory Theatre.

Over the last 21 years nearly $16 million has been distributed to local non-profit community organizations via the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF-MFF), a McCormick Foundation Fund since 1994, which serves at-risk youth. Earlier this year, the OMYF, in a surprise ceremony, presented checks totaling nearly $700,000 to 23 grantee organizations from three counties in Central Florida (Orange, Seminole and Osceola).

Sep 15

Jameer Nelson’s Transformation to an All-Star Began in 2009

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Needless to say, Jameer Nelson made Kenny Smith eat his words after the game was over.

Sep 15

For Jameer Nelson, All Eyes on Him

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Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

If there’s one player for the Orlando Magic that could have a major impact on the season this year, aside from Dwight Howard, it’s fellow captain Jameer Nelson.

In the 2010 NBA Playoffs, there was no question that Nelson was the second-best player for the Magic. To some, that was a surprise.

Entering the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats, there were a few writers that thought Nelson’s matchup with Raymond Felton would be nothing more than a toss-up. To be honest? It’s hard to blame those people when comparing the regular season numbers of Nelson and Felton. Yet four games later, nearly everyone was forced to pick up Felton’s remains after Nelson torched him.

It was more of the same against Mike Bibby in Orlando’s series against the Atlanta Hawks. At this stage in his career, Bibby is known as a defensive sieve and Nelson made sure to remind those that forgot. If it wasn’t for the fact that nearly every player for the Magic played well, Nelson could have done the same damage to Bibby as he did to Felton in the previous matchup.

As for Rajon Rondo, many suggested that he dominated against Nelson for the Boston Celtics but that wasn’t the case. Did Rondo best Nelson in the series? In some aspects, yes, but ‘dominated’ seems too strong of a word since Rondo could do little to stop Nelson on his warpath in Games 4 and 5. But that’s neither here nor there. As they say, history is the propaganda of the victors.

At the very least, Nelson proved that he could play at an All-Star caliber level with consistency in the postseason for Orlando, as well as hold his own against — arguably — the best defensive point guard in the NBA. The cruel irony is that Nelson’s performance in the playoffs further twisted the knife in the hearts of Magic fans, many of which are convinced he could have been the difference maker in the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers if he was healthy.

It’s another ‘what if’ scenario that could be explored in the future at some point.

All in all, this is an important year for Nelson because he’s going to have to play like an All-Star if the Magic want to overtake the Celtics and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

That much is clear.

Can Nelson play at that level this year?

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Sep 14

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • General manager Otis Smith: “I think our team is better overall. I don’t think it was a matter of dismantling our roster and then putting it back together. I think it was a matter of keeping our team together, keeping some continuity and making some tweaks and adjustments, which we did by bringing in Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. We brought them in so we would be able to do some things better than we did before. Now with all that said, we’re going to have to be a mentally tougher team than we have been the last two years. It has nothing to do with our Xs and Os or a jump shot made, free throws or rebounds. We just have to be a mentally tougher basketball team. Can we compete with those teams at that level? Sure we can. You don’t win 59 games back-to-back years and go to the Eastern Conference Finals back-to-back years and go to The Finals one of those years without being able to compete at that level. We just have to do the 1/8 of an inch, the amount that it takes you to go from good to great. We may go through some rough points in the season that we grow out of through the course of the postseason. That’s kind of why you go through an 82 game season. You’re not going to go through an 82 game season and win 69 games and just run through the playoffs that way. It doesn’t work that way. You’re going to have to experience some ups and downs, get some bumps and bruises and mend so that you can make a playoff run.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders who will be the starting small forward for the Orlando Magic on opening night: “On the whole, [Mickael] Pietrus has youth and familiarity with the team’s system on his side, and he’s joined the Magic’s starting five in each of the last two season-openers. Yet he’s also started just 49 of his 129 games with the Magic, and the team fared better with him as part of the second unit last year, benefitting from Matt Barnes’ energy and hustle. Furthermore, a recent study suggested that the Nelson/Carter/Pietrus/Lewis/Howard configuration vastly underperformed last season; it proved less than the sum of its parts. Does [Stan] Van Gundy trust that lineup to put it together this year? If the answer is no, the job clearly belongs to Richardson, despite his earning less than half of what Pietrus will this season.”
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks Fran Vazquez comes away a ‘loser’ after the 2010 FIBA World Championships concluded a few days ago: “Remember Vazquez? Orlando’s lottery pick (11th overall) in 2005 who has never played a minute in the NBA? Vazquez had a couple of big games, highlighted by a 16-point performance against Slovenia and a 19-point showing against Canada. But he didn’t make a consistent impact, and he vanished in Spain’s loss to Argentina. What’s more, Vazquez sounds indifferent in interviews about ever playing in the NBA. No question Vazquez’s size (6-10, 229 pounds) and natural shot-blocking skills make him an intriguing prospect, but at 27 it might be time to write him off.”
  • Dwight Howard: “I think our team is fine how it is.  We don’t need much. We’re right there every year. It’s really the little pieces that make the engine go. What it’s really going to come down to is my leadership and how well me and Jameer [Nelson] work together. But I have to be the leader of the team in order to get us over the hump.”
  • There could never be enough chatter about the Magic and the Miami Heat.
  • See what I mean? Shaun Powell of NBA.com has more: “The stretch of Florida’s Turnpike between Miami and Orlando is famous for toll booths, orange groves, a handful of unfortunate possums who weren’t quick enough and now, for scorched earth. That’s from the piping rivalry being ratcheted up between the great basketball teams residing in the state. All the necessary ingredients are there to make for a spicy stew: Territorial and professional pride, championship aspirations, hard feelings, angry words, ego and intense competition. In other words, just what the NBA needs — a taste of drama with a strong kick to it. [...] Because this is how it works in sports, the basketball community will rush to have the Magic fitted for white hats. The same folks who despised Vince Carter, for example, will now root for him. J.J. Redick might even get some love. And everyone will revisit Van Gundy’s exit as coach in Miami and portray him as a victim, for good reason (although he did walk away with swollen pockets).”
  • An official welcome for Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN Insider gives Orlando’s a C- for their off-season: “The Magic are loaded. They have deep talent at virtually every position and, as in the past two seasons, look poised to make another deep run into the playoffs. But as far as summers go, they didn’t have a great one. While teams like the Heat, Celtics and Bulls upgraded or reloaded, the Magic basically stood pat. Considering they failed to make the Finals this year, that’s a bit surprising. Magic fans are hoping that Redick continues to improve, that Duhon adds some stability at the point and that [Daniel] Orton could end up being a late first-round steal. But the truth is that while much of the East got better, the Magic stood still.”

Sep 14

More On the Verbal Spat Between Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy

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Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:

Geez, I go off to Richmond to cover a NASCAR race for a few days and look what happens:

We’re all going to need protective fire suits to cover the NBA this season. The Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat are going old-school nasty, making like Richard Petty and David Pearson, rubbin’ tires and tradin’ paint before the season even starts.

To briefly recap, Magic general manager Otis Smith called out LeBron James, questioning his competitive desire after signing with the Heat. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy ripped Chris Bosh, calling him Dwayne Wade’s “lapdog.” Then Miami Heat President Pat Riley shot back, ripping Smith and Van Gundy.

Then Van Gundy lashed back at Riley. [...]

For once, nobody can blame the media for trying to stir the pot. The pot’s already boiling over with contentious crossfire.

And that’s how it should be.

The best rivalries need a few obvious ingredients: Two great competitors (check), a contempt for each other’s lifestyle (check), and a lively volley of words between both sides (double-check).

Think Frazier-Ali, Celtics-Lakers, Yankees- Red Sox. Dare we add Magic-Heat to the mix?

The Three Amigos/Axis of Evil have already pranced and danced on stage at their coming out party in South Florida in July, complete with pyrotechnics and pose downs like they were part of a WWE show. They are the alpha dogs who are going to take a whizz on everybody’s lawn, including the one by that fancy-schmantzy new place in Orlando.

Another writer chimes in on this feud.

Sep 13

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “[J.J.] Redick didn’t waste much time announcing himself as a legitimate contributor last season. Making an emergency start in place of Vince Carter, who missed the game due to a sprained right ankle suffered two nights earlier, Redick played a team-high 45 minutes. And, uh, produced a line that even a healthy Carter may not have been able to match: 27 points, five rebounds, and six assists to Redick, who mixed three-point bombing (five-of-eight from beyond the arc) with aggressive drives during which he looked to draw contact, or at least attention, for a kickout. And yeah, the Raptors scored 116 points, but that’s not on Redick: their starting frontcourt poured in 80 of those points, so it wasn’t like Redick was a liability at the other end.”
  • A behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for the Orlando Magic dancers.
  • Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk takes a look at the aftermath of Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy‘s war of words: “So who’s on target here? Well, the answer is both. The criticism against the Heat has been more than a little ridiculous, considering they’ve broken no laws, and done nothing that a vast majority of people would do: choose to work with their friends in a tax-free state with a higher professional ceiling. “The Decision” aside, most of the comments have been purposely inflammatory. But SVG has a point that Riley hasn’t exactly been squeaky clean throughout his career and calling the presser certainly doesn’t look like he ignores the press. Expect a lot more of this this type of side-mouth work from both the Heat and their critics this season. The new reality in the NBA is going to take some time to adjust to.”
  • Rob Peterson of NBA FanHouse: “This is a fight, however, Van Gundy can’t win no matter how right he is or how right he believes he is. It’s a matter of public relations and public perception. As incredible and as honest as he is with the press, Van Gundy comes off as the classic shlumpy grinder. He’s a guy who bends the game to his will with an impeccable white board and unassailable basketball mind. In Riley, you have a guy who loves to live his part as impresario and hoops taste-maker. The man can coach because he can adapt. Have the best athletes on the planet? Showtime! Have a bunch of no talent hacks, with the exception of an All-Star center? Meet the early ’90s Knicks. Add to that he has five rings as a head coach, all achieved in bespoke suits without breaking a sweat. [...] That may be the biggest rub of this whole thing. Van Gundy’s excited retort stems from fear as much as it does loathing of Riley and his assemblage of max-contract mercenaries. Outside of the 15,000 true Heat fans, no one liked the signings and often weren’t quiet about it. “
  • The “bad blood is already building up” between the Magic and the Miami Heat.
  • Want to see Shaquille O’Neal highlights circa 1994? Now you can.

Sep 13

Sun Sports & FOX Sports Florida Announce 2010-11 Magic TV Schedule

Via Sun Sports/FOX Sports Florida:

With the debut of the majestic new Amway Center this season, the Orlando Magic continue their quest for an NBA championship in 2010-11. Under the guidance of head coach Stan Van Gundy, the Magic seek a fourth consecutive Southeast Division title, a third straight trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, and most importantly, look to capture their first NBA title. Once again, NBA All-Star center Dwight Howard will headline one of the league’s most successful cast of players.

As the team’s longtime TV partner, Sun Sports and FOX Sports Florida will be there all season as the two networks combine to offer Orlando Magic fans 71 regular season game telecasts, all in HD, with 38 scheduled on Sun Sports and 33 on FOX Sports Florida.

In addition, four preseason matchups will air live this season. The first preseason telecast will be October 5 at the Houston Rockets from Hidalgo, TX, at 8:30pm ET on Sun Sports.

Then, on October 10, the Magic play their first preseason game in the new Amway Center. Sun Sports will not only televise that historic game, but will also offer fans a spectacular look at the Magic’s new home with a special, one-hour live pregame show beginning at 5:00pm ET. The network will be set up in multiple locations both inside and outside the building giving fans watching at home a bird’s eye view of all the festivities that night.

Click here for the 2010-11 schedule.

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Sep 13

A Look Back at a Classic Game Between Two Elite Teams

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