Tag:Orlando Magic
Posted on: October 12, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 1:12 pm

President Obama 'heartbroken' by NBA lockout

Posted by Ben Golliver

You were starting to believe all the talk that nobody cared about the ongoing NBA lockout, weren't you? Well, cameras found at least one person that still cares. And he cares deeply.

President of the United States Barack Obama told reporters at a Florida fundraiser on Tuesday that the ongoing NBA lockout -- which resulted in the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season on Monday -- has left him "heartbroken."

"I have to say, that backstage I had a chance to see [Orlando Magic center] Dwight Howard," Obama said. "Dwight is a great friend. I told him, 'I'm a little heartbroken that the NBA season is getting delayed here.' I'm hoping those guys are back on the court soon."

Obama made the comments at a fundraiser for his 2012 presidential re-election campaign at Orlando's downtown Sheraton. Tickets for the event, according to the Orlando Sentinel, cost between $44 and $250.

A basketball die-hard, Obama never strays far from the NBA game. In the last twelve months alone, the President has zinged Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo over his poor shooting, awarded legendary center Bill Russell with the Medal of Freedom, talked some trash with Los Angeles Lakes guard Kobe Bryant and invited Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant to play with him in an informal pickup game.

Here's video of Obama's remarks uploaded by YouTube user dentoneable.

Hat tip: ThatNBALotteryPick and @TasMelas
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:37 pm

Manager steals millions; gets 3 years in jail

Posted by Ben Golliversteve-francis-nyk

Infinitely wise advice from the rapper Nas: "Watch them [people] that be close to you."

Those words should have been heeded by a number of Washington, D.C. area professional athletes who were taken for a million-dollar ride by their crooked sports manager. 

The Washington Examiner reports that a D.C. manager who worked for multiple NBA players and a prominent heavyweight boxer copped to misusing and pilfering millions of dollars generated by his clients.
Nathan A. Peake, 41, of Silver Spring, admitted in federal court in the District that he didn't file tax returns from 2000 through 2007 and diverted about $5.8 million in management and agent fees from his business to personal accounts.

He also admitted to misappropriating proceeds from a $3.5 million line of commercial credit that one of his athlete clients guaranteed and paid off.

"Nathan Peake's efforts at tax evasion were much less successful than the careers of the professional athletes he managed," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. "Today's sentence sends the unmistakable message that everyone -- especially those bringing in millions in income -- must pay their fair share."
There's nothing quite like a good lawyer zing. Or a bad lawyer zing for that matter.

Among Peake's clients, the paper reports, were Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson and former NBA All-Star Steve Francis.

Francis raked in more than $103 million in salary during a 9-year NBA career playing for the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, and New York Knicks. Most recently, he played professionally in China.

Lawson is still on his rookie deal with the Nuggets and has career NBA earnings of less than $3 million. Back in August, he signed to play professionally in Lithuania. 

Hat tip: @NZbeFree
Posted on: September 24, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 6:39 pm

2012 NBA All-Star Game facing December deadline?

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

On Friday, the NBA officially postponed the start of its preseason schedule. With that first ugly step now taken, the question becomes how many more similar announcements are coming down the pipeline?

The next two major decisions, chronologically, will be the cancellation of the rest of the preseason and the delay of the regular season. Past that, the next major event on the NBA calendar is the league's annual All-Star Game, slated to be held at Orlando's Amway Center in late February.

The Orlando Sentinel looked back at the NBA's last work stoppage, during the 1998-1999 season, to pinpoint a possible deadline date for the league's mid-winter classic.
In the last lockout, the league cancelled the Feb. 14 1999 all-star game scheduled in Philadelphia on Dec. 9, 1998. This year’s game is set a little later — Feb. 26 at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. So it could be that if this lockout continues, eating up regular-season games, the league likely will cancel Orlando’s game around Dec. 15.
NBA commissioner David Stern has reportedly pledged to bring the All-Star Game back to Orlando should next season's game be compromised.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young

So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 2:41 pm

Video: Dwight Howard dances with Mongolian kids

Posted by Royce Young

And now for your latest installment of "Famous NBA player does awkward dance in another country." This time, brought to you by Dwight Howard and some Mongolian children.

Three things that make this video worth watching:

1) Dwight Howard's tiny hat.

2) The awkwardly small amount of applause at the end.

3) It's Dwight Howard dancing with small Mongolian children in Mongolia. Do I really have to sell you on more than that?

Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young

Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:


San Antonio
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.


Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.



Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

New York
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
Posted on: September 2, 2011 8:35 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 10:13 pm

Dwight Howard planks with 100 fans in China

Posted by Ben Golliver

Life just gets zanier and zanier for Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard as he tours Asia with adidas.

Only a few days ago, Howard dunked on a 12-foot tall giraffe statue in a Japanese shopping mall. That wasn't enough of a publicity stunt, apparently, because his latest move was to convince 100 Chinese people to plank on a basketball court to make the shape of his new adidas logo.

CNBC.com posted an image of the event on Twitter. As you can see, Howard is at center court and his logo is simply his initials, "DH."  


Howard is an experienced hand when it comes to planking, having engaged in an extended competition with Magic guard Gilbert Arenas that took them to luxury hotels, fast food restaurants, a riding lawn mower, a piano and a jacuzzi.

This type of devotion from his Chinese supporters/customers sets a high bar for Magic fans at the Amway Center, who drew criticism from Howard in August for not being loud enough during the regular season. Perhaps if the entire sold out arena planked during one of his free throw attempts, Howard would realize that Magic fans were fully capable of doing their part. Howard takes long enough at the charity stripe that everyone would have plenty of time to assume the position.

Then, once Howard bails out of Orlando during free agency and Hedo Turkoglu is left as the franchise player, Orlando fans can conveniently curl up into a ball from their plank position. Two birds with one stone.

Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk.com
Posted on: August 31, 2011 7:35 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 7:38 pm

Dwight Howard dunks on a giraffe in Japan video

Posted by Ben Golliverdwight-howard-giraffe

Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard has been the NBA's best big man ever since Shaquille O'Neal started backsliding on that Jenny Craig diet.

Howard has been without peer as a pivotman; his contemporaries either too short, too slender, too gangly, too one-dimensional, too obese, too slow or too injury-prone to match him skill for skill. Left looking for a new challenge during the NBA lockout, Howard traveled to Tokyo, Japan, to seek out adequate competition.

At the Roppongi Hills shopping mall in Tokyo, Howard met his match: a 12-foot tall giraffe statue with a basketball hoop attached to its neck.

Surrounded by media and fans, Howard eyed his new adversary warily, approaching it with caution in an attempt to feel it out. Comfortable that it would be conquerable, Howard backed up, waited for the crowd to start clapping and chanting, and then leaped high for a one-handed dunk through the giraffe's neck basket, which stood roughly 11 feet off the ground.

Japanese blog Round Magic writes that the urban jungle adventure was just one stop on Howard's tour through Japan, as he also visited local schools and other adidas events.

Here's the video of Dwight Howard dunking in a giraffe courtesy of YouTube user 651AllRoundMagic.

Hat tip: The Point Forward
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com