Tag Archives: Orlando Magic

Heyyyy Wooorrrrld! Dwight Howard owns shirts with sleeves

Shoulders or Cantaloupes?

Shoulders or Cantaloupes?

While most people were getting some shut eye last night, Dwight Howard decided he wanted to chat with the fans and fired up UStream. He had just arrived in LA, settled into his hotel room and turned on his computer (no Playboy mansion for the man). After some technical difficulties – which prompted him to call room service at 1:00AM PST – he let out a big “HEY WOOORRRRLLLDDD!!” Viewers were greeted with the infamous smile and surprisingly a fully clothed Howard. To sum up the hour long chat he did some impresonations, showed us his candy stash, ate fries while answering fan questions and even busted out some MC Hammer when he got a shout out from the rapper himself.

With the explosion of twitter and facebook, Dwight has completely embraced his fans. He spent an entire plane ride replying to people until twitter told him he has exceeded their post limit. This is a guy who is on the cover of NBA Live, has won an Olympic gold medal and was playing in the NBA finals last month. As a fan of the game, I can only appreciate that he is taking time to do this and I hope that other athletes look to him as an example. You may not be as funny but everything you can give back to the fans will keep them wanting more.

If you aren’t one of the 500,000+ already following Dwight on twitter you should do so @DwightHoward – You can follow me too while you are at it @Nat77

If you have an hour to kill you can watch the recorded video from last night UStream (Video) or click the screen caps below to get a glimpse of what you missed.

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Free Agency – Match me if you Can

matchme
Jarrett Jack: The Raptors addressed a major need earlier in the week by announcing the signing of Hedo Turkoglu but they didn’t stop there. Word came out over the weekend that the team has signed Jarrett Jack of the Indiana Pacers to an offer sheet for 4 years $20M. Though they have Jose Calderon signed long term as their primary PG, Jack would fill the role of backup while possessing the ability to slide over to the SG position when needed. He is a typical Colangelo guy – does a bit of everything. He would be a major upgrade for the team and though they have multiple players who can play the point, none seem to be candidates for the job over the course of a 82 game season. Indiana was already flirting with the tax limit and may be handcuffed at this point unable to match the offer. The Pacers did try the tandem PG strategy with Jack and TJ Ford (a scenario that had played out in Toronto previously with Ford & Calderon) and by seasons end Jack had won the starting spot. Going forward though, seeing that they have a ton of money tied up with Ford and Tinsley, it’s very unlikely they pony up the cash to keep Jack in Indiana.

Marcin Gortat: The Orlando Magic lost Hedo and gained Vince. Over the weekend they added another front court player in Brandon Bass. When the Mavericks signed Marcin Gortat to an offer sheet, all signs pointed to Orlando letting him walk. Over the weekend, rumblings were that Otis Smith has changed his tune and the team is now expected to match the Dallas offer. They will essentially be paying $6M per year for a guy who will remain in the shadows of Dwight Howard. My stance? FREE THE POLISH HAMMER! Gortat has been a project for the Magic and has slowly been developing under the tutelage of Patrick Ewing. Bottom line though, he will never get much playing time on that team, where as in Dallas he had the chance to be their starting center sending Dampier to the bench or out of Texas. From this Fanhouse interview it seems Gortat is actually bummed at the idea that Orlando wants to keep him and Dallas may have to turn to plan B.

Paul Millsap: The Utah Jazz are in a serious bind. They need to find a trade partner for Carlos Boozer which will then make it possible for them to match the offer sheet and retain the services of Millsap. They gave Okur a contract extension, but with Boozer picking up the option of his his final year @ $12.7M, they would have to go over the luxury tax to sign Millsap. The Blazers already got burned once in the free agent frenzy (See: Hedo Turkoglu) and are not taking chances this time around. Their offer sheet is structure to pay a signing bonus of $5.6M and most of the first years salary upfront. This means if Utah or any team would want to partake in this, they would have to sign over a check of roughly $10M right off the bat. The likelihood of that happening is slim with the times the way they are and this being the first major decision being made by the Miller family (who now run the Jazz since the passing of owner Larry Miller). The total amount for the contract on the offer sheet is 4 years $32M and unless the Jazz can find some trading partners real soon, it looks like Portland may have one more piece to their puzzle. Only problem is they are still lacking that play maker to play alongside Brandon Roy.

Other notable moves:

Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns) – After being courted by New York and Boston, Hill opted for the desert heat of Arizona. Phoenix gave him a chance to revive his career and repaid them by sticking around. The deal is said to be for $6M over 2 years with the second year being a player option.

Brandon Bass (Orlando Magic) – The Orlando Magic were oh so close, making it to the NBA finals in 2009 and adding a player like Brandon Bass is a great move for a team lacking a true PF. With Bass joining the team, Rashard Lewis can move over to his natural SF position. The deal is for 4 years worth $18M.

Antonio McDyess (San Antonio Spurs) – The Spurs are giving the Celtics a run for their money when it comes to sporting the “over 30” lineup. The addition of McDyess is a solid one for a team whose window is closing fast. The 3 year contract starts at the full MLE which should keep him in Black and silver for the remainder of his career barring a trade.

Channing Frye (Phoenix Suns) – The Suns seemed to be blowing this thing up but now with re-signing Hill and talks of a Nash contract extension, the plans may have been altered. Channing Frye was lost in the mix in Portland and will get more playing time here but he is not a game changer and neither is his new contract which is said to be for 2 years @ $2M /yr.

Anthony Parker (Cleveland Cavaliers) – One of the classiest guys in the NBA, as a Raptor fan I am saddened by his departure. The Cavaliers may have lost out in the Artest, Ariza sweepstakes but they landed a solid guy who may not partake in the pre-game antics with Lebron and co, but for 2 years @ $3M/yr,  he will bring it every night on both ends of the floor.

Dahntay Jones (Indiana Pacers) – He was playing for the Nuggets on the cheap, defended Kobe in the playoffs and now has landed himself a 4 yr $11M contract in Indiana. A tough loss, Jones had become the defensive go to guy for Denver and a fan favorite. He will get more playing time and an elevated role in Indy as he continues to develop his game.

Zaza Pachulia (Atlanta Hawks) – 4yrs $18M is what it took to keep ZaZa in the ATL. The Hawks signed him just a day after re-signing Bibby to a multi-year contact and it is widely rumored they will be doing the same for Marvin Williams in the upcoming days.

Anderson Varejao (Clevland Cavaliers) – It seems that everything that went wrong with their negotiations a couple years back is water under the bridge as the Cavaliers dished out big time to keep Andy in Cleveland. 6 year deal worth $50M – overpaying much?

Mehmet Okur (Utah Jazz) – With the possibilities of losing Millsap and trying to trade Boozer the Jazz wanted to take no chances with Okur it seems. The two parties agreed on a 2 yr contract extension worth approx. $21M.

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Nobody puts Mama in the back seat!

Mama Carter always rides shotgun!

Mama Carter always rides shotgun!

Browsing the Internets late Sunday night a friend alerted me to the news that Vince Carter served as the honorary pace car driver for the Daytona 500. It may just seem like a regular story to most, but up here in Raptorland its breaking news when it comes to the man we love to hate. Immediately I started envisioning Mama Michelle Carter calling shotgun followed by telling him to put on his seatbelt, check his mirrors and so on. As usual with anything nowadays, I turned to twitter to get some reactions on the story and here are some of my favorite tweets

Via @THHB: Did the car stop mid-lap, leave the track, and head to North Carolina?
Via @Jose3030: Did the car have a flat tire and complain of needing time off?

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2009 NBA Champions: Los Angeles Lakers – Congratulations are in Order

I was openly rooting for the Magic but alas it wasn’t their time. I don’t want to write some long winded recap of the series, but taking a cue from Shaq on twitter, a quick congratulations are in order.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Congrats Kobe Bryant on #4 – Maybe we can get the Nike puppets in the video for “Shaq How My Ass Taste?”

(Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Congrats Phil Jackson on #10 – Hands are full… walk away. Now where can I buy that cap?

(Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Congrats Lamar Odom – How SWEET it is to be on that cover – just another thing money can’t buy you

(Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Congrats Derek Fisher – Big Shot Bob Who? You made them when they counted.

(Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Congrats Pau Gasol – Puppy dog face + NBA trophy + Bear hug + Invisalines= Priceless! … Now go thank Chris Wallace

(Photo Credit: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Congrats Trevor Ariza – You can now spend the rest of the summer planning what to do with all the money coming your way.

(Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Congratuls Andrew Bynum – You finally got your hands on the only thing you can grab without getting called for a foul.

(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Congrats to the rest of the team – Sasha Vujacic , Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Shannon Brown, Josh Powell, Didier Mbenga, Sun Yue, Adam Morrison – Each of you now have 1 more ring than Malone, Barkley, Reggie Miller….

I may not have written a recap but the rest of the blogosphere was all over that…
Hardwood Paroxysm: Sometimes You’re Just Better Than Everyone Else
The Baseline: All Things Being Equal, That Happened
True Hoop: Nine Things to Remember About the 2009 NBA Finals
Silver Screen and Roll: Lakers Win 15th Championship
Straight Bangin’: The Unraveling of a Good Idea
Dino Nation Blog: Lakers Are Defending Champs…Let Off-Season Begin
Talk Hoops: 2009 NBA Finals -Lakers/Magic Game 5 Recap

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The NBA – Where Every Second Counts

playoffs

Mentioned this on Twitter last night. No joke, I think my heart skipped a few beats as the Magic crumbled in OT to the Lakers. These playoffs have been as good as it gets. When the Raptors blew the season I went ahead and picked two teams to ride with through the playoffs – The Blazers and The Magic – and what a ride it has been. Truthfully, I believed the Blazers had a better chance of doing anything this year but with no real vested interest in either team, I have surprised myself at how emotional these playoffs have gotten me. Night after night of upsets, overtimes and buzzer-beaters have proven costly to my health and my wallet. I have been trying to quit smoking (yes ugggh I know) but all this stress isn’t helping the cause. Last night as Fisher drained a 3 with 4.6 seconds left, I picked up my pack of smokes and the warning was staring me right in the face. Instead of taking a cigarette out of the pack I tweeted – This years playoffs should come with a surgeon generals warning

Looking back at last night, we saw both teams play come out with more of a defensive mindset. The odds that the Magic would repeat their shooting performance were slim and though it was looking good for them in the first half, they ended the night shooting at a 41% clip. They didn’t do themselves any favors by shooting only 59% from the charity stripe and coughing up the ball 17 times. When your star player has more turnovers(9) than the entire Laker team(7) you better hope for everything else to fall in place, but as the time ticked down they were still “One errand elbow” away from tying up the series.

Gotta give props where they are due. Last night, even though it came ugly, the Lakers did what they had to in order to win a tough game on the road. Early on in the game the refs went whistle happy and most of the calls went against the Lakers’s big men causing Phil Jackson to reach way down his bench and give minutes to Powell and Mbenga. The Zen master must have poured on some wisdom at halftime because everything changed from there on out. The soon to be a lot richer, Trevor Ariza took over in the 3rd Q and almost single handedly outscored the entire Magic team. When it came to closing out the game the ball was put in the hands of the seasoned vets on the team. Phil Jackson’s 9 rings are no fluke and earlier in the series when people were calling for Fisher to be benched he didn’t flinch and on this night that same guy who was being thrown under the bus turned out the hero.

This series could very well be 3-1 in favor of the Magic but as we know, a few seconds is a lifetime in an NBA game and there is a reason you have to play all 48 minutes. The Magic have a lot of maturing to do but I have no doubt they will come back with vengeance next game.

I will leave you with this….

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Done with Dinneyland…. For Now

dinneyland

Disneyland 2 – Disney World 0

Courtney Lee may have missed the game winning shot for the Magic to steal home court but the story of the game was written with all the shots the Magic didn’t get to take, courtesy of the 20 turnovers they accumulated in game 2. They improved statistically in every category from game 1 but my eyes kept going back to that number 20.

Post game, Coach Stan Van Gundy couldn’t look past that number either – “If the formula was 20 turnovers and 41 percent shooting, it’s not a very good formula.”

Coming off a crushing 25-point defeat, the Magic would have liked a better start to game 2. Luckily for them, the Lakers were in the same position to start this one as we witnessed a horrible display of basketball through the first 12 minutes of the game. With shooting percentages under 30% for both teams this situation favored the Magic. They came out in the second half with energy and their 3 headed monster got rolling. Some questionable coaching decisions (J.J. Redick with crunch time minutes in an NBA final?) still left them in a position to win the game. Going into the 4th with a lead and Dwight on the court with only 2 fouls, Orlando had done a pretty good job of making up for the turnovers but then there was Kobe. Staring them down, not as vocal as he had been in game 1, but everyone in that arena knows that the 4th quarter is his. Coming off a NBA finals personal scoring high (40pts) Kobe got in the drivers seat and went to work. A block and a missed opportunity took us to overtime. Going into the extra frame, momentum had clearly shifted. 7 points from Pau Gasol in OT essentially sealed the fate of the Magic.

The Magic may be heading home down 0-2 in the series but this is far from over. Home cooking has been good to them this post season but they are faced with a human obstacle – Kobe Bryant. He is a man on a mission right now and if Orlando wants to go back to Disneyland they are going to have to execute or else they may lose their season pass to the Magic Kingdom – Until next year.

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Aside

Final day of NBA Withdrawal… Thursday can’t come soon enough. Over the past 3 days I have gone on a rampage with lists that covered blogs, tweeps, movies and books but as game time nears I am  going back to … Continue reading