Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 211

Aug 05

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “There were about 50 foster kids in the auditorium Wednesday afternoon. David Vaughn’s story did not resonate with all of them, but hopefully a handful of faces in the crowd heard every word, and found strength in his journey sprinkled with desperation and determination. Vaughn told them about his highs as a first-round draft pick of the Orlando Magic in 1995, the $1.8 million contract, the cars and all the other extravagant toys; his lows of depression and violence, and how he ended up as a wayward husband, homeless and destitute. “It’s a great experience to share my story,” Vaughn said. David Vaughn’s comeback likely won’t be documented in Sports Illustrated or ESPN, but it is worth telling because it reflects a tenacity not often seen on the competitive fields of play.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Nobody is going to be better than the Miami Heat at the two, three and four spots. But picture them playing Orlando. Jameer Nelson has the ball (guarded by Mario Chalmers) and Dwight Howard (covered by Joel Anthony) comes out to set the high pick. That is a hard-to-stop P&R combo for any team, and the undersized Anthony is really going to struggle to stop the strength of Howard rolling to the rim. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are going to have a hard time helping out because you can’t leave Orlando’s perimeter shooters (especially when J.J. Redick is in for Vince Carter). Can Orlando beat Miami this way? Can some combination of the O’Neals (Shaquille and Jermaine) along with Kendrick Perkins (when he returns from injury) do the same thing for Boston? Is there a model for beating the Heat?”
  • Chad Ford and John Hollinger of ESPN Insider update their NBA Future Power Rankings. The Magic fall from No. 3 last year to No. 7 this year: “We liked Orlando’s roster the best in March, but now the Magic don’t even have the best roster in Florida. Plus, we’re focused down the line, past this coming season, and that hurts the outlook for four of the five Magic starters. Nonetheless, this team looks stacked for the long term with Dwight Howard at center and a constellation of minor stars surrounding him. Additionally, keep an eye on young forward Ryan Anderson, who could become a better version of Troy Murphy. Orlando’s market looms as another big factor in its favor. With a new arena, a balmy climate and a dominant big man, it’s already near the top of Chris Paul’s short list of future destinations and could pop up on other players’ lists, too. The only major concern is the serious money the team is taking on. Orlando is a small market, but the team is well into the luxury tax and probably will remain that way for a while unless ownership demands a budget slashing. For now, it hasn’t, and with that, solid personnel moves under GM Otis Smith and the exacting coaching of Stan Van Gundy, the Magic get good marks for management.”
  • Dwight Howard is one of the best bargains in the league.
  • Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game drops some knowledge: “To those still clinging to what they know, I’d ask this: what’s a power forward? What characteristics link Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Rashard Lewis, Lamar Odom, Reggie Evans, Tyrus Thomas, and J.J. Hickson? Not rebounding. Not scoring. Not skill set. Not height relative to their teammates. Not even the spaces they occupy on the floor. I’m at a total loss as to the criterion that would group that bunch together, which makes the assessment “Player X isn’t a real power forward” pretty much worthless. I think I know what it means, but without the ability to define the contemporary power forward, how could I really know for sure?”
  • Here is the inspiration for Mahoney’s post, by the way. The topic is about traditional positions.

Aug 05

Mercedes-Benz Florida Dealers Ink Deal with Orlando Magic to Sponsor Premium Seating Club in Amway Center

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic announced today a new, multi-year relationship with Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne and Mercedes-Benz of Daytona. Through the partnership, premium season ticket holders will have access to the all-new Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge during Magic home games in the new Amway Center. Opening in the fall of 2010, the facility, which will be owned and operated by the City of Orlando on behalf of the Central Florida community, will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows and serve as the new home of the Orlando Magic.

Located on the Event Level of the Amway Center near the Orlando Magic locker room, the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge presents its patrons with unprecedented access to Magic players as they enter and exit the court, as well as an exclusive view of the opposing team. The space, which is over 13,000-square feet, allows members ample room to mingle while enjoying all-inclusive food and beverage and premium amenities, such as a full-service bar, seating and dining areas and visual access to both locker room areas. The Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge can be accessed only by courtside ticket holders and superstar season ticket holders in the first seven rows from the floor. [...]

In addition to the entitlement of the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, Mercedes-Benz will also have a permanent vehicle display on the Terrace Level next to the concierge area at the Amway Center, vehicle displays at Fan Fest on select dates, an in-market promotion during the season and special events sponsored by the local Mercedes-Benz dealerships: Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne, and Mercedes-Benz of Daytona.

Aug 05

Orlando Magic Moms to Participate in Mothers of Professional Basketball Players (MPBP) First “Hoopin’ for Health” Charity Basketball Game in Orlando on August 7 to Benefit the United Negro College Fund

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Mothers of Professional Basketball Players (MPBP) square off against the Professional Football Players Mothers Association (PFPMA) in the first-ever “Hoopin’ for Health” Charity Basketball Game on Saturday, August 7 at 6 p.m. at Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the United Negro College Fund.

The charity game will be held during the 2010 MPBP Annual Conference, scheduled for August 5-8 in Orlando, Fla. Tickets for the game are $10 and available now in advance through the UNCF Office (1080 Woodcock Road, Suite 280, Orlando, Fla. 32803) and Hope Church (Columbia Street and John Young Parkway) or at the door on game day. For additional ticket information, please call the UNCF Office at (407) 896-6940.

Orlando basketball stars Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis and former pro football stars Eddie George and Kenard Lang will serve as game referees. Former Pittsburgh great Jerome “The Bus” Bettis will provide commentary during the game.

In addition to raising money for the United Negro College Fund, both organizations are uniting in the mission to inspire women of all ages to become more active and mindful of weight related illness such as heart disease.

Aug 04

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard has been long fed up with the LeBron Lovefest — even before it got super-sized. The reason Dwight says he doesn’t want to answer the questions about James and the Miami Heat is not just because he’s tired of the King. It’s because if Dwight truly said what he felt about James, he’d find himself in the middle of a media mess, although he no doubt would gain some allies in Cleveland. No, best to leave that one alone. Besides, Howard can’t afford to rile up the Heat Traveling All-Stars, given he might be outnumbered. But Howard is going to have to get used to LeBronmania virtually happening in his backyard.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy on Brandon Bass: “I don’t know [if Bass will play more]. It’s as simple as that. It will depend on Brandon, number one, if he’s able to improve in some of the areas that we think he has to improve in. Then he’s got a chance of playing more. There are other factors in terms of how lineups work and things like that that may be out of his control. But the biggest thing will be if he plays better in some areas. That’s to be seen.”
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “When I wake up on the morning of Friday, Oct. 29, I certainly don’t expect it to feel like any typical day. [...] On this atypical day, the Orlando Magic will get their first crack at the revamped Miami Heat. It will be their initial opportunity to prove they are still the more superior team in this newly-established, but rapidly evolving, Sunshine State rivalry. Since the week when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to unite with Dwyane Wade in Miami earlier this summer, much of the chit-chatter around central Florida has been placed on this new-fangled rivalry. NBA fanatics have turned to one another and curiously asked, “Can the Magic beat the Heat?” Just two days before celebrating one of the more popular holidays in American culture, Halloween, will it be Magic or Heat fans that deliver the initial scare to their adversaries? Although the game on Oct. 29 will be in South Beach at American Airlines Arena, I expect a hefty number of Magic fans to be present. If not at the game in Miami, nonetheless, every Magic supporter will undoubtedly be in front of a television to watch this highly-anticipated showdown.”
  • Dwight Howard will make a trip to India to promote the NBA.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk has more on the topic: “Apparently, basketball is a sport a lot of people in India play in their youth but don’t really follow as they get older. Sort of how much of America treats soccer. It doesn’t seem to get the blood going in India. Cricket does, because who doesn’t love a good five-day test? Field hockey, badminton and of course soccer are popular. But basketball has a long way to go. Sending Dwight Howard there is the first step. But this is going to be a longer, harder struggle than it has been in China. There are no players from India in the NBA (it’s doubtful there are any ready for major Division I college ball). It is going to take many years of sending players, hosting clinics, finding ways to put the game at its highest levels in front of people.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “The season’s first TNT Thursday will be recorded as certifiably historic in Orlando, where the Magic will play their first-ever game at the Amway Center against John Wall’s Washington Wizards. You can’t help but wonder, though, whether the league’s mythical scheduling computer spit out Washington as the first visitor to Orlando’s new building just in case the Wiz and Magic decide to resuscitate those trade talks headlined by Gilbert Arenas and Vince Carter over the next six weeks or so. Wall’s debut against Arenas? Tantalizing thought.”
  • Austin Burton of Dime Magazine: “Orlando at Miami (Oct. 29, ESPN) — Although the rest of the schedule hasn’t been released, I’m thinking this will be the home debut of the Super-Friends. This will also be the first meeting in what should be a fierce cross-state rivalry for the next decade. Dwight Howard has been working on his post moves with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer, and will try to break some out against the team that’s hi-jacked all of his hype in the state of Florida. Dwight and Chris Bosh have always had a competitive, high-scoring rivalry, and LeBron has his own scores to settle with the Magic.”

Aug 04

T-Mac’s Zenith: When the Basketball Court Was His Oyster

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Seriously. Some of these shots by Tracy McGrady are flat-out absurd. Note the reverse layup.

Aug 04

An Addendum to Tracy McGrady’s Career, Featuring Grant Hill

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Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

Given that today’s topic at Magic Basketball centers around Tracy McGrady, I wanted to shed light on a post I wrote at Orlando Pinstriped Post nearly a year and a half ago. I’ve written thousands of posts since I started covering the Orlando Magic almost two years ago, and this is one of my all-time favorite pieces because it pertains to Grant Hill and the ‘what if?’ scenario.

Here’s a snippet:

Grant Hill.

For Orlando Magic fans, the mere utterance of the name naturally provokes a myriad of emotions to come out. However, there is one emotion that I want to capture. Curiosity.

By definition, curiosity is the state of wanting to learn more about something.

In the case of Hill, I’ve been curious of one thing. What if Hill was completely healthy during his tenure in Orlando. What would the end result be, for both him and the team? I always thought of the scenario in my brain, but I could never come up with any type of empirical data “on paper” to see how things would have played out for the Magic (mea culpa). Sure, I knew that the team would improve its performance on the court with a healthy, in-his-prime Grant Hill paired with a budding superstar in Tracy McGrady, but by how much? What could have Orlando fans expected to see from their squad? When the Magic front office invested in both Hill & McGrady, what could the maximum returns have been?

Well, I can say that I am able to provide answers to all those questions.

Click here to read the rest.

Aug 04

The Tracy McGrady manifesto

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Reuters/John C. Hillery

A picture is worth a thousand words.

In this case, it’s a photo of failure and unfortunately for Tracy McGrady, it’s perhaps the lasting image of his time with the Orlando Magic. The players sitting next to McGrady, aside from Darrell Armstrong, are none other than Pat Garrity and Shawn Kemp — each embodying the word that defined the McGrady era in Orlando for three seasons until the bottom fell out in 2004. Average, if not worse.

And no Grant Hill.

McGrady will forever be criticized as someone that didn’t lead “his” team past the first round of the playoffs, even though the Magic were always the underdogs and never the favorites in each of their matchups (granted, the first round series against the Charlotte Hornets in 2002 was a toss-up).

This isn’t about the Houston Rockets, mind you. This is about Orlando and this is about McGrady playing in his hometown. This is about a player that did everything humanly possible to make the Magic a competitive squad, despite a supporting cast that was a joke and the lack of help from Hill due to his injuries.

Given McGrady’s situation, it seems like people forget how good he was in his prime. McGrady was a top five player in the league with Orlando, without a doubt, and Magic fans were truly blessed to witness him at his zenith. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but McGrady knew how to put on a show.

How good was McGrady and how bad was his supporting cast?

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 03

Orlando Magic to Open 2010-11 Regular Season on October 28 vs. Washington Wizards at Amway Center

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The National Basketball Association tonight released a number of highlight games for the upcoming 2010-11 season. The games, announced on NBA TV, are the nationally televised games for opening week, Christmas Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The Orlando Magic will open the 2010-11 regular season at the new Amway Center on Thursday, October 28 against Washington. Tip-off is 8 p.m. and the game will be nationally televised by TNT.

Other games involving the Magic announced tonight are:

  • Friday, October 29 @ Miami (8 p.m., ESPN)
  • Saturday, December 25 vs. Boston (2:30 p.m., ABC)
  • Monday, January 17 @ Boston (8 p.m., TNT)

Orlando’s game on December 25 marks its third consecutive appearance on Christmas Day and eighth overall. The entire 2010-11 regular season schedule will be announced by the NBA on Tuesday, August 10.

Aug 03

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jason Williams will return to the Orlando Magic. The 34-year-old free-agent point guard has signed a contract with the team, Magic officials announced Tuesday afternoon. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is believed that Williams agreed to a one-year deal. Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith did not return a phone call from the Sentinel for comment. Williams is now 13th player on the Magic roster with a guaranteed contract. The league-mandated roster minimum is 13, so the Magic almost certainly are done making any more free-agent signings.”
  • More from Robbins: “We all know that Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t like his team playing on Christmas. Van Gundy has said he’d like to see the league take a five-day break around the holiday. In a few hours, we should learn whether Van Gundy and the Magic will be playing on Christmas for the third consecutive year. At 7 tonight, NBA TV will air a special in which the NBA’s nationally televised games for the opening week of the 2010-11 season, Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be released. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel has already reported that the Miami Heat will host the Magic on Oct. 29.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has more on Jason Williams’ return.
  • With 10 seconds remaining in the game, the Orlando Magic are down one and have possession of the basketball in the front court. Who gets the last shot? Vote here!
  • Looking back at the Shaquille O’Neal-Hakeem Olajuwon matchup in 1995.
  • John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk: “There are plenty of guys who can teach Olajuwon post moves, even the post moves Olajuwon himself used. The trick is finding a way to give Howard the confidence to actually use those moves in a game, which is what a great ex-player like Olajuwon can do for Howard. Howard has unmatched strength and explosiveness for a big man, and he’s extremely comfortable using his left hand around the basket. If he can add some footwork and counter-moves to his arsenal, he could easily win his first MVP award next season.”
  • Remember Williams’ alley-oop to Mickael Pietrus in Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks? Now you do.
  • Eric Freeman of The Baseline continues to think the Magic are too loaded: “Williams seems to understand that he’s the third point guard in Orlando, and John Denton also notes that the Magic “never wavered” in their desire to bring him back. So this seems to be a match where each side understands the relationship. At the same time, Williams was quite solid for the Magic last season and is only a third point guard at this point in his career because his body can’t handle the regular pounding of the full backup role. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how Stan Van Gundy might sometimes opt to play Williams as the backup rather than [Chris] Duhon. If that happens, how will Duhon react? He was brought in to be the backup, and he has almost certainly adjusted his expectations for the season accordingly. So if Williams often plays that role, will Duhon be upset? This has become a regular problem in Orlando. Players like Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass entered last season with certain expectations given their large contracts and barely saw the floor. Now they want to be traded, and it’s easy to see Duhon in the same place, even if he’s not on the same level as those two.”
  • Olajuwon is keeping “The Dream” alive with Dwight Howard and company.
  • Orlando has sold more than 14,000 season tickets.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post with the specifics of J.J. Redick‘s contract: ”More details about the Orlando Magic’s salary structure, specifically about J.J. Redick’s front-loaded contract, have emerged thanks once again to the indefatigable Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com. Deeks just updated his NBA salary database again, and his latest addition includes Redick’s previously unknown salary. We now know that Redick is owed $7.25 million this season, $6.75 million in 2011/12, and $6.19 million in 2012/13, for a total of $20.19 million. But there’s a previously unreported wrinkle to consider: the third year of that deal, which he originally received from the Chicago Bulls before the Magic matched the offer, is unguaranteed. It will become guaranteed ‘if not waived on or before July 8, 2012.’ ”
  • Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 will be released in late September or early October!

Aug 03

An Update on Dwight Howard and Hakeem Olajuwon

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:

Hakeem Olajuwon called Dwight Howard a scaredy cat.

His exact term was “afraid,” but still, calling out a big man like that is usually “fightin’ werds.”

Howard didn’t flinch. He listened, took things to heart.

Fabulous.

I don’t know if Howard’s mentoring hook-up with Hakeem will be much ado about nothing or a pivotal turning point in his career. It’s certainly has made for some frisky blogosphere chatter about Hakeem’s influence on Howard, the scope of Patrick Ewing‘s ability to make Howard a better player, and whether Howard himself is committed to the cause.

We’ll find out shortly when the invites roll out for a new downtown arena, future home of the Orlando Magic and their championship dreams.

Right now, there’s good reason to be pumped up about the prospects. [...]

Howard said he worked with Hakeem for a week this offseason in Houston. They will connect again shortly as part of a team for the Basketball without Borders program in Senegal. Given the comparisons to ninjas and assassinations, it’s obvious that Hakeem is playing head games with Howard, in a very good way.

Another Hakeem Olajuwon update.

Unlike the Chris Paul rumors that are dormant for the time being, Howard teaming up with Olajuwon is a reality and not a dream. Howard has already spent time with Olajuwon in Houston, and it appears that he will continue to work with him as he heads off to Senegal for the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program.

For Magic fans, that’s music to their ears.

It’s no secret that the Eastern Conference has gotten considerably stronger in the off-season. The East is no longer top-heavy, with the emergence of the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls entering the fray as credible threats. The point is, the Orlando Magic will have a tough time trying to return to the NBA Finals.

And this is where Howard comes into play.

Given what’s at stake for the Magic, Howard must take his game to the next level if he wants to lead his team to the promised land. Howard is the best defensive player in the NBA, but there’s no question that he needs to be equally as dominant on offense for Orlando to get where they want to go. Olajuwon’s wisdom is invaluable, in this case, because he’s been telling Howard not to be afraid to use his full arsenal of moves and not hesitate from doing anything on the floor — this is where the ninja analogy enters the discussion. Howard proved a lot in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, averaging 22 points per game against Kendrick Perkins as well as Rasheed Wallace (two players he’s struggled to score against in the past) and having moments of brilliance. The hope for Howard, with the help of Olajuwon, is that he carries that momentum to next season and unleashes his fury on the league.

Howard is so close to reaching his zenith.

Can Howard fully evolve into a devastating two-way player? We’ll find out soon enough.

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