Posts Tagged ‘Nick Anderson’

Nelson Committed To Helping Young Magic

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DALLAS – The more change that comes to the Orlando Magic, the more Jameer Nelson remains true to himself, and devoted to his team.

Few would have blamed Nelson for becoming bitter over the Magic’s rapid descent. A survivor of the Dwightmare that cost the franchise its coach, the league’s most dominant center and its standing as an Eastern Conference contender, Nelson could have, without guilt or repercussion, forced his way out of this Orlando rebuild that enters Year 2.

Entering his 10th season, matching Nick Anderson as the longest-tenured player in Magic history, Nelson chose otherwise.

“It’s fun,” Nelson said prior to Monday’s preseason win against the Mavericks. “It’s fun to see the way things progress, where we’re trying to take the franchise and rebuild and do things with a young group. Me coming in 10 years ago, it was kind of the same scenario.”

Nelson finds himself surrounded by a young team beginning to create a bit of a buzz with players such as Moe Harkless, Tobias Harris, Nicola Vucevic and the summer’s No. 2 pick, Victor Oladipo in the fold. The Magic’s top prospect is an exciting player Nelson is eager to mentor while knowing Oladipo could ultimately replace him.

“He’s humble and he’s very talented,” Nelson said of the Indiana product. “He has great upside and I think he’ll be a great player in the league for a long time.”

Nelson took Monday night’s game off and watched an Orlando starting five that boasted six seasons, 358 games and 199 starts among them. Nelson has started 488 of his 583 career games.

The Magic could have, maybe should have, cut ties with him prior to last season. He’s now four years removed from his lone All-Star appearance and has been injury-prone, playing more than 70 games just once since 2006-07. At 31, Nelson has likely reached his peak. Orlando signed him to a three-year extension last summer, raising eyebrows around a league that asked what good Nelson could do for a franchise committed to its youth.

“I’m not a guy looking for accolades. I’m not a guy looking for publicity or notoriety,” Nelson said. “My job is to do my work on the court and off the court in the community and be the person I’ve been for the last 31 years. There’s a reason why I’ve been here for 10 years, a reason why the organization has kept me around.”

Still, Nelson isn’t naive. He knows he’s on the block this season and likely will be playing elsewhere before the February trade deadline as second-year general manager Rob Hennigan, who’s the same age as Nelson, marches onward with his post-Dwight blueprint. The 6-foot point guard could help a contender as a steady reserve, or slide into the starting role for a team needing a veteran in charge. Though neither seems to be what Nelson truly desires.

“I still want to play here in Orlando and see this thing turn around,” Nelson said.

He certainly witnessed it implode. The Magic played in the 2009 Finals and were in the 2010 East finals. By the end of 2013, they had a league-worst 62 losses.

“Just weird,” is how Nelson described the past few seasons through the Dwightmare haze and beyond. “We competed for a championship for four or five years in a row. We were one of the elite teams, so to see where I’m at now in terms of rebuilding, you know, it’s still fun. I’m doing something I love to do, I’m around a bunch of guys who are great, young guys. We don’t have any knuckleheads, we don’t have any guys who cause any problems. Everybody wants to be the best player they can be and wants to learn.”

Teaching and preaching is what Nelson is doing for this squad of early 20-somethings … and for his appreciative, 38-year-old, second-year coach, Jacque Vaughn.

“Since I’ve been here, he’s been a guy that I’ve been able to count on to carry my message in the locker room,” Vaughn said. “And that’s extremely important when young guys are doing this for the first time around. He’s been a leader for us and someone I can count on.”

Nelson passed on a question about his feelings toward Howard. He said he followed the big man’s free agency this summer: “How couldn’t you? You turn on the TV, he was everywhere.” He even said Howard made the right choice by leaving the Lakers and signing with the Houston Rockets because, ironically, “they have a similar system that we played with (former coach) Stan [Van Gundy].”

So how much progress can the Magic make this season? Even in an Eastern Conference that will provide playoff opportunity for an upstart, there’s little doubt this will be an ongoing struggle. And more upheaval is likely with Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Glen “Big Baby” Davis all available for the right price.

Nelson said he’ll keep pushing as long as the Magic let him.

“My job is to continue to be professional whether we win or lose and move forward,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to help these guys develop as much as we can and, with that being said, a lot of them look up to me.”

No Shaq? No Dwight? Still Magic





ORLANDO — Pat Williams knows about beating the odds.

Three times he has been the official team representative when the Magic won the Draft Lottery.

At 71, he is smiling and relentlessly active and looking fit less than a year after being diagnosed with cancer.

So while the immediate outlook for the local NBA franchise would seem to run the gamut from bleak to dire, Williams says Orlando as a sports market and a city is in far better shape to withstand the loss of Dwight Howard than when Shaquille O’Neal bolted for L.A. back in 1996.

“It won’t be nearly as big a blow,” said Williams. “Not really. This town has grown so much since then. We had 55 million visitors last year. That’s never happened before in an American city. I think Orlando can stand on its own. It’s a major, major market now.

“So is there sense of dismissal, that we’re ‘a dried up pond,’ as Shaq called it? No. No.

“Of course, we were a good bit smaller then and maybe not as sophisticated. Of course, he never left here and has lived here ever since. So I guess you could say that Shaq hasn’t changed since then, but we have.

“The Shaq experience, it continues to irk people with no end in sight and that was 16 years ago. (more…)

Say Goodbye To The House Shaq Built

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We thought it only right that we all take a moment to say goodbye to the house Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Lil’ Penny, our main man Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson and the rest of the old school Orlando Magic built.

The Amway Center, the house Dwight Howard built, is fully operational and one of the finest basketball buildings on the planet. But we’ll always have a soft spot in our hearts for the old place:


Fixing The Hole In LeBron

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The next time — and surely there will be a next time — LeBron James gets to the NBA Finals, would he be better served getting a gentle pat on the back or the Heimlich Maneuver?

To choke or not to choke: that is the question.

Actually, the question that’s been percolating throughout the basketball world ever since King James repeatedly sank in the fourth quarter moat against the Mavericks is: Did he choke?

In an illuminating piece by Eric Adelson at Yahoo.com, sports psychologist Hap Davis has a biological explanation of what happened to James and a tip on what he can do about it:

In fact, whenever athletes start thinking about the pride or pain of winning or losing, they can become overwhelmed with emotion and unable to perform the basic duties of playing in the present.

“The moment someone thinks about the reward,” Davis says, “they are in a whole different space.”

So you see the brilliance of what Dirk Nowitzki did in Game 6. He held his emotions back until the second the game ended and the title was won. Then he hustled to the locker room to cry. He was completely unemotional and then he was completely emotional. It was the opposite of what so-called “chokers” do.

So what’s the best way to overcome this? How can LeBron James turn back into the fourth-quarter beast he used to be? Move on and forget the 2011 NBA Finals ever happened?

Nope. Davis says the best way to erase the past is to dwell on it. Watch the failure again and again and again on tape until it evokes zero emotional response. Watch the disaster until you’re so numb to it that it feels like someone else is doing the failing.

“I’ve worked with too many athletes who say, ‘Screw it, it’s a bad game,’ ” Davis says. “Some people will get away with ‘Forget about it.’ But most athletes will find that’s a bad idea. They haven’t got past the emotional experience.”

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Should Nick be tossing bricks?

There are plenty of folks who can still rightly point fingers at the retiring Shaquille O’Neal for taking a handful of potential championship banners with him when he left Orlando back in 1996.

But Nick Anderson isn’t one of them. Not as long as the 0-for-4 memory of Nick the Brick in 1995 lives on.

Anderson joined the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi on his radio show to lament the day that Shaq flew the coop:

“I was sitting at my home in Chicago watching the Olympics (in 1996) when a special bulletin came on and I happened to see the Big Fella (Shaq) holding a (Lakers) jersey standing next to Jerry West,” Anderson remembers. “I fell off the couch. Two minutes later, my phone rang and it was my dad calling to say, ‘You know, your championships just went to L.A.’ And how right he was. They (those championships) left and went to L.A.”

Of course, what Anderson did not re-live and lament was his own classic gaffe in Game 1 of the 1995 Finals that might well have altered the course of NBA history.

To refresh:

  • Anderson and Shaq’s Magic entered The Finals matchup against the Rockets which was considered a toss-up by oddsmakers.
  • The Magic built a 20-point lead in the second quarter, then squandered virtually all of that lead coming down the stretch.
  • With Orlando up by three, Anderson went to the foul line twice in the final 10.5 seconds of regulation and proceeded to miss four straight free throws when any one of them would have iced the game.
  • Kenny Smith then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, tying it up and the Rockets won in overtime on a Hakeem Olajuwon tip-in.
  • The Magic were demoralized, depressed and never able to bounce back, getting swept 4-0 by Houston.

Clink! Clank! Clunk! Crash!

Though it rarely makes the lists of infamy, it can be argued that Nick the Brick’s four pas was the biggest choke job in sports history.

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