Tag:Orlando Magic
Posted on: August 6, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 2:32 pm

'Chocolate Thunder' name came from Stevie Wonder

By Matt Moore

So how exactly did this:


become linked with this:


From Dime
Dime: How did the nickname Chocolate Thunder originate?

DD: Stevie Wonder used to come the ball games and they would have a guy sitting with him. And the guy would be holding on to his arm, telling him what’s going on, and he would say, “Hey, the big chocolate guy just put down a thunder dunk. The chocolate guy with another monster dunk.” And Stevie Wonder actually gave me the nickname Chocolate Thunder. So a guy who never saw me can give me that name. I think I can wear that well. I don’t even know if he remembers, it’s been so long, but I’ll keep that.
via Dime Q&A: Darryl Dawkins Reveals The Origin of His Nickname And Recalls His First Dunk | Dime Magazine (dimemag.com) : Daily NBA News, NBA Trades, NBA Rumors, Basketball Videos, Sneakers.

 That's a pretty spectacular story. 

If you're unfamiliar with the work of Dawkins, he's considered one of the game's all-time great dunkers. He's widely considered to be one of the first truly remembered players of "potential" who never quite capitalized on it. Dawkins' highest PER came when he was 21, averaging just 11.7 points per game in 25 minutes of play time. His best overall season saw him average 14.7 points and 8.9 rebounds in 1980. He was traded as parf of the Sixers' moves which led to acquiring Moses Malone, which led to their championship. In short, moving Dawkins was part of what they had to do in order to win a title.

Yet, with his dunk-naming, prolific style, and unbelievable swag (that over-used phrase is apt here; come on, the man said that he was from the planet Lovetron), his left his mark on the game. He's a cult figure in the history of the game, and mentioned because what he could do not because of what he did do. In a way, Dawkins stands out as the rare player whose promise actually overshadowed his lack of accomplishments, instead of the other way around. 

Here's an interesting mental exercise. Given their respective careers, say that Gilbert Arenas' career ended right now. Who would have had the better career?

Both had brilliant nicknames (Agent Zero vs. Chocolate Thunder). Both were known more for their personalities than their play. Both never lived up to their fullest potential. Arenas had the better individual seasons, but Dawkins went deeper in the playoffs. Arenas was at one point top 15 in the league, which Dawkins never was. Dawkins had trouble with drugs, Arenas had trouble with guns, and teammates, and defecated in a teammate's shoe. Arenas could take over a game, but rarely did, and suffered from injuries which kept him out for most of the past four years. Dawkins never lived up to his potential and at one point was playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the Continental Basketball Association after his retirement. 

Dawkins was traded for a first-round pick. Arenas was traded for Rashard Lewis.

This goes round and round. It's an interesting debate for the next time you're in the sports bar. Before you have it, though, put Stevie Wonder on the jukebox, won't you?

HT: TBJ via PBT 
Posted on: August 3, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 5:08 pm

Stan Van Gundy's swaggin' at basketball camp

Posted by Royce Young

Too bad Dwight Howard doesn't need to improve on his ball-handling. Because Stan Van Gundy's got plenty of that to go around.

The Magic's head man is helping run a youth basketball camp and while going over a little dribbling drill, SVG decided to casually bust a move.

I like how he kind of pretends to not care that he's showing off by just acting like he's totally coaching. But he knows. He knows. If we ever got that one-on-one showdown with Jeff and Stan, I'm pretty sure we know which Van Gundy is taking that one. I mean, how do you stop that, Jeff? Other than by grabbing his ankles of course.

A quick first step, between the legs, behind the back, spin, between the legs and all while yelling instructions at a bunch of children. I get the feeling this type of coaching impressed these 10-year-olds. I don't think Vince Carter ever really bought into it.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:00 am

Olajuwon says Howard needs more opportunities

By Matt Moore

Dwight Howard worked out every day with Hakeem Olajuwon last week, according to the Orlando Sentinel who spoke with Howard about the sessions. Howard says that Olajuwon basically said Howard can already do everything Olajuwon's trying to teach him. He just needs the confidence to put them into the game and... more opportunities from his coach. From the Sentinel:  
Olajuwon feels Howard can be an even better offensive player with a little more freedom and confidence in his offensive moves.

“He just said I want you to do them in the game, and tell your coach you got a lot of skills and he needs to let you use all your skills,” Howard said Tuesday.
via Hakeem Olajuwon says Magic aren’t using Dwight Howard enough – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.

Howard had the 17th highest usage rate in the league last season (percentage of possessions used). That could obviously go up, and most people argue it should. But Olajuwon is really talking about using Howard in a wider variety of ways. Getting Howard out in the pick and roll, where he only spent 6.8 percent of his time last season according to Synergy Sports is a start. Using him in more spots on the floor, and having him do different things with his post moves is hopefully another. Too often Howard went to the same limited arsenal of post moves on the floor, which became predictable and, therefore, defendable.

More concerning to me, however, is this quote:
“For me, it’s all about confidence,” Howard said. “All of the stuff that we worked on is stuff I’ve been doing my whole life.”
This is the same stuff we routinely hear from Howard, which is that there is nothing wrong with his offensive game, or if there is, he just has to use it more, and that he can't really be taught anything. If Howard really does have moves like this? 

Then he has no excuse for not using them more. Common sense would say he should probably spend as much time with Olajuown as he can and check his ego at the door. 
Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:28 pm

Dwight Howard to train with Olajuwon again

By Matt Moore

So, funny story. Last summer, we talked to Dwight Howard about his experiences training with Hakeem Olajuwon. Here's what he said:
CBS: Have you spent any more time since June working with Hakeem Olaujuwon?

DH: Well, all I really needed was that one session. We wanted to get back together, but it's very tough -- he stays in Jordan during the summer. But he sent me the tape of my workout and I've been doing some of the things on the tape, but the biggest thing was the footwork, just learning the footwork and the small little things to add to my game.
via Dwight Howard on movies, the Heat, and tennis - CBSSports.com. 

Yeah, so, about that. From the Orlando Sentinel this week:
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has started training again with former NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon and says he's working on shooting more and on improving his notoriously poor free-throw shooting to above 75 percent.

In messages back and forth with some of his Twitter followers, Howard said he's in Houston working with Olajuwon for the second consecutive summer.

Asked whether he's working on his outside touch, Howard responded that he is working on becoming "more complete" as a player.

When a follower asked what Howard meant, Howard answered: "shooting more" and "freethrows above 75."
via Dwight Howard: Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard training with Hakeem Olajuwon for second summer in a row - OrlandoSentinel.com.

So apparently that one session was not all he needed. Howard also told me last summer that there was only so much he could gain from the sessions with Olajuwon due to the difference in era and how players are defended. Olajuwon was largely credited with Howard's seemingly improved offensive game, as he empoyed a mid-range face-up pull-up shot to go with his dazzling array of one-step-spin dunks and... one-step-spin dunks. But Howard never really showed any significant improvement in his post-up game, never displaying any of the kind of footwork and touch that Olajuwon was so known for in the post. He did shoot a career high in free throws attempts and percentage, but still left 370 points off the scoreboard at 60 percent. 

Howard would do well to not try and develop his range game, but to really commit himself to developing better footwork and an ability to get a clean shot off in the paint when the defense adjusts. He's already the best defensive player alive. Adding any versatility or touch to his offensive game would make him nigh on unstoppable. 

Posted on: July 26, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 10:11 pm

Dwight Howard on playing for the Heat: 'Never'

Posted by Ben Golliverdwight-howard

Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard has done his best to keep his options open as he slowly approaches free agency.

All of his options, apparently, except for one.

ESPN.com reports that Howard, speaking at a comic convention, has ruled out one NBA team as a possible destination: the 2011 Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat.
What about the Lakers? "That's everybody's question," he told the "Kick" audience. "I am wearing purple … but that's Rock's outfit."

The Heat? "Never."

Stay with the Magic or leave for free agency? "At this point, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just enjoying life and taking advantage of being young and being able to travel and do the things that I've always wanted to do."

Howard has added plenty of fuel to the battle for NBA supremacy in Florida since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to team up in South Beach. He's mocked James' chalk toss, made fun of his hairline and criticized The Decision, to name three obvious examples.

But this blunt dismissal of the Heat is no idle trash talk or laughing matter. Howard seems to be expressing a philosophical difference between himself and his rivals to the south.

It's an interesting stance for him to take, considering that it's his expressed desire to win a title and a trade to the Heat for one of their Big 3 would represent a very, very good way for Howard to reach a ring.

But Howard wants to be the alpha dog. He craves and seeks attention, clearly isn't interested in following someone else's path and, perhaps more than anything, is smart enough to pander to Magic fans. Howard going to the hated Heat is their worst nightmare and he's still got to play out his current contract, after all. 
Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:20 am

Is the Magic's offense flawed?

By Matt Moore

This is not a new subject. Since the Magic came into relevance in 2009 with their blistering 3-point barrage to make the NBA Finals, pepole have been questioning their offensive philosophy. The basics go somethings like this: 

  • People think that shooting the 3-pointer is not an effective way to run an offense because it relies on long-range jump shots and eventually, those aren't going to fall and what are you going to do then?
  • The response, then, is that you should drive more, because that creates high-percentage opportunities, which are around the rim, or at least forces the defense to react to that threat, allowing easier pull-up and spot-up jumpers. 
  • In order to do that, you have to have the personnel which can create off the dribble, attacking the rim. There are a lot of questions about whether the Magic have that kind of system. If they don't, it's wondered if that's the case because of the system they've designed. 
But here's the rub: the Magic's offense has actually been really efficient the plast few years. So what happened last year? Talking to the Orlando Sentinel, who he apparentl is not a big fan of, Stan Van Gundy says it was just one of those years. He also thinks you can't magically force your personnel to drive if they're not good at it. From the Sentinel
“Especially from an offensive standpoint, this is a personnel driven league,” Van Gundy continued. “You do with what you have. We get it from our media all the time and our fans. We’ll have those nights, 2-for-23 from three. They say you gotta drive the ball more. Who? Who? That’s my question. Who? Who’s going to drive the ball? That’s not who we have. If I had a different team, there are a lot of guys in the league that I wouldn’t shoot threes with. We have who we have and we’re going to build our system around it.”
via Stan Van Gundy defends Orlando Magic’s style of play – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.

Van Gundy's right that they have who they have and they should build their system around it. Unfortunately, their personnel wasn't well fit for anything last season, which is why they ended up out of the first round. The 3-point shot didn't just abandon them, it snuck out in the middle of the night and took the cat.

But there needs to be a priority to change that personnel and bring in someone who can create off the dribble. Additionally, the Magic offense became so dependent on the 3-pointer last year that it abandoned what had made that approach so successful in 2009, the extra pass. The Magic took whatever was the first 3-pointer available last season as opposed to pushing that extra pass to the player who has time to spot up.

Orlando needs a lot of work to re-open the window. That starts with getting a perimeter playmaker who's more than just a spot-up shooter.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:18 am
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Posted on: July 18, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 8:49 pm

Celtics-Knicks, Bulls-Lakers on Christmas?

Two more Christmas Day NBA games have reportedly leaked. Posted by Ben Golliver.


On Sunday, we noted that one of the five NBA games scheduled for Christmas Day had leaked in advance of Tuesday's unveiling. The Miami Heat will reportedly face the Dallas Mavericks in a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals.

On Monday comes word that two more of the five games have leaked.

First, Newsday reports that the New York Knicks will host the Boston Celtics in Madison Square Garden.

Then, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles Lakers will host the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center. 

So far, no major surprises, as all six teams that have leaked were shoo-ins to play on Christmas due to either their major starpower, big market geography, or both. That the Bulls and Lakers face off in an inter-conference rivalry is a nice twist, but nothing to write home about.

The Orlando Magic -- led by Dwight Howard -- and Oklahoma City Thunder -- led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook -- are also virtual locks to play on Christmas Day, and both made it last season as well. The Los Angeles Clippers didn't play on Christmas last year but are a very likely candidate, thanks to the league's up-and-coming marketing monster, Blake Griffin.

That makes nine spots -- five from the Eastern Conference and four from the Western Conference. The big question remains who is the 10th team. If the Magic face the Thunder, then the last team will need to host the Clippers because the Lakers will be occupying the Staples Center. In recent years, the fifth and final Christmas Day game has been a Pacific time zone affair, meaning the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors or Sacramento Kings could host the Clippers if Orlando and Oklahoma City do face off. Selecting any of those three teams would also provide a balance between teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences.

OK, OK, enough speculation. We'll know the full schedule tomorrow.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com