- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “[Marcin] Gortat’s proudest moment in the NBA came last Saturday in Game 3 in Charlotte when he filled in for [Dwight] Howard down the stretch and then sealed the game with two clutch free throws. He was shocked when good friend J.J. Redick in-bounded the ball to him with 12 seconds to go, but he collected himself enough to bury the game-winning free throws. He literally made himself into a solid player with his tireless work before and after practices and games, and it came through with Gortat on the line in Game 3. “When I was standing over there on the free throw line I just told myself, ‘It’s fine. Just do the same thing that I do every day before the practice and after the practice,'” Gortat said with a chuckle. “It was just like I was standing with one of the guys from the office, in an empty gym working on my game.” Gortat said that as much as he’s longed for a greater role the past two seasons, winning a title with the [Orlando] Magic would make it all so worth it. He already holds the distinction of being just the third NBA player ever from Poland and signing that $34 million contract last summer set him up financially for the rest of his life. But Gortat dreams now of how a championship would alter his life.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel has more on Gortat.
- Happy birthday, Brandon Bass!
- Words of wisdom from general manager Otis Smith in response to Howard’s complaints about the officials: “Howard was limited to just 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds, dramatically fewer than the 18.3 and 13.2 he averaged during the regular season. Smith, who was once a no-nonsense player, has been a no-nonsense general manager. He criticized his star player instead of criticizing officials. ‘Officials are human. They make mistakes, sometimes in your favor, sometimes in the other team’s favor. But it all balances out,’ he said. ‘Just play basketball, and stop worrying about the calls. Are you going to get some bad calls? Sure. Are you going to get some good ones? Sure. Those people running around in stripes are just like me — the more you yell at them, the worse they get. If you smile a little bit more, and you talk to them, you may get one.’ A few of Howard’s fouls in the opening round were foolish fouls when he should have shown more restraint. Others came when he was wrestling in the lane with one of the three Charlotte centers who were more interested in aggravating him than making basketball plays. ‘He needs to be on the floor longer than 28 minutes. That’s not on the officials. That’s not on Stan. That’s on Dwight. Life’s tough. You’re a big guy. Sorry. Move on.’ Howard struggled with foul trouble early in the playoffs last season, too. Like many stars in the game today, though, he rarely admits to a personal foul against him, complaining to officials when calls don’t go in his favor. And that’s not something Smith likes. Howard still believes he doesn’t get the ‘star calls,’ that others like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant often receive. ‘I don’t buy into that concept at all. Zero. I think over the course of a 48-minute game, it all comes back around,’ Smith said. ‘This time of year, the officials do a pretty good job. We’ve got another round of this, and it’s going to be just the same. He needs to be on the floor longer than 28 minutes. That’s not on the officials. That’s not on Stan. That’s on Dwight. Life’s tough. You’re a big guy. Sorry. Move on.’ ”
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “I’m with Otis, even though I’m not quite sure Dwight is capable of smiling any more than he already does. He’s a big guy and refs have a hard time calling games for people that huge. Any time Dwight touches another player, that dude goes flying and it looks like a foul. The whistle blows and more often than not, the guy on the floor is getting the call. That’s one of the prices you pay for having shoulders the size of human heads. All that being said, if there is some way we can get Dwight Howard to smile even more, I’m all for it. Happiness is contagious, y’all.”
- John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on Smith’s comments.
- Howard is excited to get back to work.
We know the story by now.
After the Orlando Magic made it to the 2009 NBA Finals and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, general manager Otis Smith made the choice to reconstruct the roster during the off-season.
Arguably, the two biggest decisions made by Smith was replacing Hedo Turkoglu and bringing in Vince Carter, as well as surprising many people by matching the Dallas Mavericks’ offer sheet and re-signing Marcin Gortat to the full mid-level exception to remain the Magic’s back-up center.
Smith shares his take on Carter …
I think that’s why we brought [Vince Carter] in. We brought him in for the postseason. Getting some attention off Dwight [Howard], which he’s been able to do. And to help carry his share of the load. We’re not asking him to carry the full load, which we don’t ask anyobdy to do. Our biggest load-carrier is Dwight. Everyone else has to do his part. [...] Probably the positive with him for me is he understands the game better than we thought. He had to understand we’re going to work hard every day. That’s something he had to grow into here. we don’t take a whole lot of days off. When we practice, we practice.
I think we signed him for a reason. To back up Dwight. Dwight will get in foul trouble and when he does we need a backup center. We insert Marsh. Marsh does a very good job of holding down the fort. Has done a very good job of holding down the fort the few years. I don’t know if that’s satisfaction. Like I said before, we’re in a league that probably only has 10 centers. We just happen to have two. It’s a luxury.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “[Orlando] Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who put his team through an arduous, two-hour workout on Thursday with three 12-minute quarters of game-like action, said his team will practice on Friday as if they will play Milwaukee, “because that’s the only team we can face on Sunday.” And if the start of the next series is pushed to Tuesday – an eight-day stretch from the end of the Charlotte sweep — the Magic might take Saturday off and push Sunday’s workout back to after a Hawks-Bucks Game 7. [...] Several of the Magic players talked on Thursday about the need to keep their conditioning intact and to stay sharp mentally. Small forward Matt Barnes said Thursday’s practice “felt like we played three games in one day,” and point guard Jameer Nelson pointed out that the workout was as intense as any the Magic have had in some time. Nelson, easily Orlando’s most consistent player in the four-game sweep of the Bobcats, said the Magic are determined to not let a long layoff distract their focus from the ultimate prize of a championship.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy shares his thoughts on the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel thinks the Orlando Magic should fret facing the Bucks in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semfinals: “If I’m the Magic, I’d rather play the Hawks because they are a team that really has no intestinal fortitude. In contrast, the Bucks, coached by the fiery Scott Skiles, have shown they have the grit and guts to compete even when the situation looks hopeless.”
- Van Sias of SLAM ONLINE has a tip for fans of the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and the Golden State Warriors, three teams not participating in the playoffs — root for the Magic instead: “Probably the last team you want to pull for is the Lakers, state pride be damned, so why not take it as far out of Cali as near possible and roll with the Magic men? Dwight Howard’s always gonna get his, so you don’t have to worry about your big man not showing up. Plus, they’re already in the conference semis after putting the broom to Charlotte. Hook up with them and you’re on your way!”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Dwight Howard lost his head in the Charlotte series. Sure, there were some borderline calls that went against him, but he didn’t deal with it well. He kept picking up silly fouls, not just accepting some of the banging but retaliating. Then he sat. Then his teammates nicknamed him Foul on You. Watch the video and see for yourself. [...] Superman needs to sit down with the other Superman and talk about this — Shaquille O’Neal has been there. It takes some maturity as a strong, physical player to accept the cheap shots and not retaliate, to see calls that would be made on others ignored on you because your strong enough to power through them, to have other people flop and get calls. But Howard let it get into his head.”
- Are the Magic still disrespected? Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post attempts to find an answer to that question.
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie chimes in on Howard’s $35,000 fine.
Via the Orlando Magic:
It’s time for Magic fans and the community to jump into the excitement as Blue & White Ignite for the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Magic encourage their fans to show their spirit and wear Blue and White to ignite the team in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Some highlights of the fan activities surrounding the 2010 Orlando Magic Playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, will include:
- For Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 9,000 blue and 9,000 white “Blue & White Ignite” T-shirts, presented by Bright House Networks, will be given away, along with 10,000 rally rackets.
- Following Game 1 and Game 2, 10,000 fans will receive car flags when they exit Amway Arena.
The first 10,000 fans in attendance for Game 2 will receive a drawstring bag presented by T-Mobile. In addition, the first 1,000 children in attendance will receive a STUFF photograph.
- Fan Fest will take place on the north side of Amway Arena for all home playoff games. The Fan Fest will feature the Legend’s Lounge presented by Bright House Networks for autographs with Community Ambassadors Bo Outlaw and Nick Anderson. The Fan Fest will open two hours prior to tip-off and will have an official playoff merchandise trailer and food and beverage will be available for purchase. This will be a huge fan zone with a tailgate atmosphere that will give fans a reason to arrive early for the festivities.
A few days have passed since the Orlando Magic swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs but there is still a lot to talk about from the matchup. Like Dwight Howard‘s foul troubles. Long story short, the Bobcats used their trio of big men — Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, and Theo Ratliff — to frustrate Howard as much as possible and coax him into committing silly fouls whenever possible. Mission accomplished. The fact that Charlotte was unable to win a game in the series is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Howard was always seemed to commit a foul when he played. The Magic were able to get away with having Howard serve the role as spectator on the bench for prolonged stretches in games but it can’t be understated how important it is that he’s on the floor for Orlando, especially on defense. If Howard can’t stop fouling, the Magic are going to be in trouble later in the postseason.
Some people may be wondering, how did Howard commit his fouls? Well, at the behest of several people, I made a “foul-umentary” to chronicle all of Howard’s fouls from Games 1-3 against the Bobcats. I was unable to include Game 4 due to technical difficulties.
The video is for educational purposes only.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “From either his spot along the baseline near the Orlando Magic’s bench or in his family suite high above the crowd, Rich DeVos likes what he sees when he peers out across the arena that bear his company’s name. He certainly enjoys the product out on Amway Arena’s parquet floor what with his Magic having breezed through the first round of the playoffs and once again being legitimate contenders to win the NBA championship. But when the 84-year-old DeVos attends games – and he likes to come more than the once-a-week edict his wife, Helen, gave him recently – he sees beyond the action on the court. He sees kids’ basketball teams being honored at midcourt during timeouts, church choir groups singing the national anthem and teenagers scurrying in the stands for t-shirts shot out from those cannons. But mostly, DeVos – a family man’s man – sees dads and daughters interacting, husbands and wives smooching on the kiss cam and grandfathers talking basketball with their grandsons. It’s moments like these that DeVos is delighted to be the owner and steward to Orlando’s deepest-rooted, longest-lasting professional franchise.”
- The odds that Dwight Howard is fined for his comments on his official blog yesterday are very high. UPDATE: It’s official.
- Ben Q Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel begins the “rest versus rust” debate here, and some commenters in these pages have wondered if the Magic would have been better off if the Bobcats gave them a rougher go of it in the first round. Could the Magic have used an additonal 48 or 96 minutes as they gear up for their championship run? Will the long layoff between series work against them? These are valid concerns, but ultimately, the Magic should be just fine. [...] Howard, their go-to guy, has been monstrously efficient. [Rashard] Lewis, [Vince] Carter, [Matt] Barnes, [Mickael] Pietrus, and [Jason] Williams have been on fire from the outside. Lewis doesn’t score much, but does it efficiently. Carter hasn’t scored much relative to most other high-profile wing performers, but he’s still putting up better than a point every two minutes on reasonable percentages, which is in line with his season averages. [Jameer] Nelson, on whom the Magic leaned heavily in the first round, and [J.J] Redick are the only two players in the Magic’s top ten who have struggled after long rests.”
- Also, make sure to check out OPP for a look back at some of the major storylines from the Magic’s first round series against the Charlotte Bobcats. Topics include: Howard’s foul trouble and the production (or lack thereof) from the bench.
- Darren Rovell, CNBC Sports Business Reporter, takes a look at the changing dynamics between agents and athletes: “If there are too many agents in the sports world today, blame the movie Jerry Maguire, which despite its cautionary tale, hooked almost every kid who didn’t make it as a pro athlete. [...] In the 1996 movie, which is still the fifth highest grossing sports movie of all time, Jerry was constantly fighting to keep his client Rod Tidwell. But those fights were against the rest of the agent world. Today? Sure, there’s client stealing going on. But there are also the athlete’s friends and relatives who get into the business and convince a star that it makes sense to go in another direction.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando Magic Television Play-by-Play Announcer David Steele was named the Florida Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA), Executive Director Dave Goren announced today. The award marks the first of Steele’s broadcasting career.
Steele is in his 21st season with Orlando Magic basketball and his 12th as the television play-by-play announcer, calling the action for Sun Sports and FOX Sports Florida. He was named as the television play-by-play voice for the Magic in March of 1998 after handling radio play-by-play duties for the team’s first nine seasons. In addition to his Magic responsibilities, Steele handles play-by-play for Sun Sports telecasts of University of Florida football.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Steele’s professional broadcasting career began in 1975 as sports director for WJHG-TV in Panama City, Fla. He also served as sports director at WLOS-TV in Asheville, NC and was the football/basketball play-by-play announcer at Western Carolina University.
Steele, along with the other 106 winners of the State Sportscaster and Sportswriter of the Year Awards, will be honored at the NSSA Awards Banquet May 3 in Salisbury, NC. Also at the awards banquet, baseball’s Peter Gammons and football’s John Madden will be inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, while National Sportscaster of the Year Jim Nantz of CBS Sports and National Sportswriter of the Year Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe will also be honored.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard has maintained his position in the top 5 on the NBA’s Most Popular Jerseys List, the NBA announced today. Howard appeared on the list in the top 5 for the first time when the rankings were released in January 2010. The list is based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and on NBAStore.com since the start of the 2009-10 NBA season through April 2010. Both stores are having record sales years with a combined increase of 20 percent over last year.
Thirteen players competing in the 2010 Playoffs appear on this year’s list. The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant once again tops the NBA’s list of most popular jerseys, where he has reigned as No. 1 since the start of the 2008-09 season. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James remains No. 2 and the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett climbed one spot from last year to No. 3. Chicago Bulls sophomore Derrick Rose continues to make a name for himself, coming in at No. 4.
The Orlando Magic also rank in the top 10 on the list of Most Popular NBA Team Merchandise, holding down the No. 7 spot.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Rest vs. rust … ah, yes.
It’s a common theme that spans across all sports, particularly in the playoffs, and the question that is usually posed is whether or not getting rest is a blessing or a burden? For the Orlando Magic, it would seem to be the latter, given that they’ve been playing their best basketball at the perfect time. For example, including a first round sweep against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Magic are 24-3 in their last 27 games and currently on a franchise-best 10-game winning streak. The last thing Orlando needs is rest, right?
There’s a way to find out.
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
If Atlanta and Milwaukee is finished in six games, Orlando will host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs ATL/MIL on Sunday, May 2 @ 1 pm. Televised by ABC.
The Atl/Milw. series is currently tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for Wednesday night and Game 6 scheduled for Friday night.
Other schedule information to be determined.
Orlando Magic Playoff Ticket Update — Eastern Conference Semifinals (opponent/dates to be determined)
Orlando Magic season ticket holders are given the first priority for playoff tickets.
Full season tickets are now available for next season by calling 407-89-MAGIC or logging on to orlandomagic.com.
Ticket highlights for next season in the new Amway Center include: 2,500 seats priced $15 or less, 7,000 seats priced $25 or less, and for the first time ever a $5 per game ticket.
Following the season ticket holder presale, remaining Eastern Conference Semifinal playoff tickets will go on sale to the general public Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
While supplies last, single game tickets for the 2010 Orlando Magic playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, are available for purchase:
- Online at www.orlandomagic.com
- At the Amway Arena box office(cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At the Orlando Magic ticket office (RDV Sportsplex, Monday-Friday)(cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
- By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- Playoff tickets start at $18.