NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury decided to rank the Top 10 20-20 game performances from the 2013-2014 season. On that list at #5 and #3 are two familiar faces, Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris and center Nikola Vucevic. Quotes come from Blinebury’s piece. This an outstanding reminder of what both these young men can do in the upcoming season.
#5 Tobias Harris – January 24, 2014 vs. Los Angeles Lakers — 28 points, 20 rebounds
Maybe Harris was just sniffing the blood in the water when the weakened, beaten Lakers limped into town. He came out smoking, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds in the first quarter to start the Magic on their way to a 114-105 whipping of L.A. It was the best game of the 22-year-old’s career. His first 19 rebounds of the game came at the defensive end. If he hadn’t grabbed No. 20 under the Magic’s own bucket with 1:26 left in the game, he would have become only the second player since 1985-86 (when rebounds were sorted offensive and defensive) to grab at least 19 rebounds, all on defense. Dirk Nowitzki has done it twice.
#3 Nikola Vucevic – November 6, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Clippers — 30 points, 21 rebounds
Vucevic was a workhorse all night long for the Magic and laid the foundation against the visiting Clippers. But it was the big man’s clutch performance at the foul line that clinched things. He went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 23.3 seconds to sew up Orlando’s 98-90 win. Vucevic was a perfect 8-for-8 on the night from the stripe and shot 11-for-19 from the field as the Magic ran off their first three-game win streak in 11 months.
As part of the Orlando Magic’s Hoops for Hunger program, the organization along with new guard Ben Gordon and Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw on Tuesday afternoon teamed up with the Christian Service Center and Orange County Public Schools to debut the Magic Love Pantry at Hungerford Elementary (230 South College Ave., Eatonville, 32751). Gordon, Anderson, Outlaw, Hungerford Elementary Principal Letecia Foster, City Commissioner Robert Stuart, and Magic volunteers stocked the Magic’s Love Pantry with food and hygiene items for families in need.
The Love Pantry is an initiative of the Christian Service Center in partnership with OCPS. Since the program began in 2011, more than 8,000 family members across 63 different Love Pantries in Orange County schools have been provided food, hygiene items and community resource information. Each participating school is provided with a lockable cabinet supplied with emergency food and basic hygiene items that gets replenished on a weekly basis by volunteers. When a student or family is in need, the school’s staff member can go to the cabinet to provide enough food for one or several family meals.
As part of the Magic’s commitment to this Hoops for Hunger initiative, the team participates in several activities throughout the year including a full staff service project with UnitedHealthcare staff to assemble 13,500 food packs for the Hi-Five Kids Pack Program through UnitedHealthcare’s Do Good. Live Well. program, support of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Summer Break Spot program to provide free healthy meals to youth all summer long, and serving Thanksgiving breakfast annually at the Coalition for the Homeless. In addition, Head Coach Jacque Vaughn sponsors the Blessings in a Backpack program at Nap Ford Community School, which provides backpacks filled with food for underprivileged children on the weekends.
The Orlando Business Journal is conducting a ‘Brand Madness’ poll of the more popular entities that exist in the Central Florida area. The most competitive matchup of Round 1 occurred between the Orlando Magic and Orlando City Soccer Club. After 32,241 total votes, Orlando City ended up upsetting the Magic 51% to 49%. It was a tight affair that City still won despite the Magic official Twitter account promoting the vote along with players Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Tobias Harris, and Channing Frye.
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) September 19, 2014
Look, these polls are not scientific. Can you really trust a poll in which Zynga beats EA Tiburon? Come on, now. BUT, City beating the Magic in these types of voting venues is becoming a trend. Back in July, Orlando Weekly conducted a readers poll that included ‘Best Local Sports Team’. City finished first again. The UCF Knights football team – coming off an American Athletic Conference title and Fiesta Bowl victory – were 2nd. The Magic – who are the only major sports franchise in town – finished 3rd. That’s a problem.
In recent years – having just concluded their final season in 3rd-division level of American soccer the USL PRO – Orlando City is the more ‘successful’ franchise. The Magic haven’t won a Southeast Division title since 2010 and haven’t been Eastern Conference champs since 2009. That’s not that long ago in NBA terms. However, City has racked up regular season titles in 2011, 2012, and 2014 as well as USL PRO Championship trophies in 2011 and 2013. They’ve had several victories against Major League Soccer teams and have hosted great friendlies with clubs from overseas.
City had over 20,000 boisterous fans – myself included – inside the Citrus Bowl for the 2013 title game. Unless you were there, you have no idea how phenomenal that atmosphere was. It’s something you can’t find at Amway Center. After spending 2014 at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, OCSC will be back at the Citrus Bowl for their inaugural MLS season in 2015. They’ll have Kaka on the squad. The Brazilian legend has almost 21 million Twitter followers which is more than if you were to combine half of the NBA teams’ Twitter accounts. I’m a proud OCSC season ticket holder and I’m thrilled to have another major franchise join the Magic and combine my two favorite sports of soccer and basketball.
People get swayed by winning and what others deem as popular. City is perceived to be the more popular team among folks under the age of 35. Cost also plays a factor and going to an OCSC match is usually cheaper than attending a Magic game. That’s why it’s important that the Magic at least flirt with an East playoff berth this season. A 20-win and a 23-win season has had the casual Magic fan jump ship. Winning fixes everything including bringing back fans to your product. Otherwise, the Magic are going to lose even more support that will keep shifting over to Orlando City and other options like UCF, the Solar Bears, and even Predators.
I have an idea that could very well find the Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris playing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. So Team USA strolled to a dominant FIBA World Cup gold medal in Spain a week ago winning each game by an average margin of 33 points. They won every contest by at least 20+ points. USA hasn’t failed to win a gold medal at a senior-level national team competition since Greece knocked them out of the FIBA World Championships in 2006. We haven’t seen blowouts like this from an American side in about two decades.
Now many writers for large media outlets are getting a little big-headed by wanting the NBA to refuse to allow their stars to participate in FIBA play. A number of reasons are being cited. Lack of competition. Bad American television ratings (even though they’re great in the rest of the world). Paul George getting injured and possibly missing a year of action. Stars like Kevin Love and Kevin Durant stepping away from national team duty to focus more on their NBA team and contract responsibilities. Stars sitting out isn’t just an American problem. I would know seeing Greece having many of their better players sit out of the FIBA World Cup due to injuries or for resting purposes. It appears writers, GMs, and owners want to ignore how fantastic an experience like this tournament is on NBA players. It doesn’t hurt to grow national pride.
One thing I do agree on is that the FIBA World Cup, FIBA Americas tournament, EuroBasket, etc. need to begin earlier (obviously not possible with the Olympics since it’s more than just basketball involved). I’d say the start of August is adequate. It doesn’t interfere with college or NFL football seasons here in the United States. There’s no schedule clashing with the global giant that is soccer. When the tournament concludes in the middle of August, it also gives players extra rest time before late-August and September European and NBA training camps begin. U-15, U17, U-19, etc. tournaments can get moved up to June and July.
A huge gripe with me is that the American media has placed the Olympics as the supreme international title that can be obtained in the sport. That is false. In every other basketball-playing country, the FIBA World Cup is more important than the Olympics. I can make a strong argument that even EuroBasket – which only European teams participate in, duh – is a more prestigious tournament than the Olympics but we can’t seem to get certain people to buy into logic. All of the above sentences has your typical U.S. fan not caring about the FIBA World Cup or the FIBA Americas tournament.
So why not tweak the current international system a bit. Let’s take emphasis away from the Olympics and add more proper importance to the other competitions.
My proposal: Restrict the Summer Olympics tournament to an Under-24 player pool.
This would apply for all countries, not just Team USA. This is only for the Olympics and not the FIBA World Cup, FIBA Americas tourney, EuroBasket, etc. We’re taking a page from soccer because it is the global game, no matter how hard some Americans try to deny it. I mean FIBA already re-titled the ‘World Championships’ as the ‘World Cup’ this year. The Next FIBA World Cup won’t be until 2019 now so as not to occur in the same year as the FIFA World Cup (next one is 2018). Let’s keep the great copycat ideas flowing.
FIFA has left zero doubt that the pinnacle of international soccer is the World Cup by having their Summer Olympics soccer tournament only played by athletes under the age of 23. They allow for 3 players to be over the age of 23, something that wouldn’t be necessary for my basketball proposal. It ends up being an ideal scouting opportunity. An opportunity for players to receive way more pitch time than they see with their clubs or on the senior men’s national team. The same could be the case in basketball if we had an Under-24 tourney.
Why the year difference? I promise it’s not because Tobias and Victor will both be 24 come the Rio Olympics, though it is convenient. It’s because in the soccer world clubs and academies scoop up potential soccer talent at an extremely young age to train and groom them. Basketball hasn’t progressed to that point. There are international academies for basketball but at no where near the scale that we see in soccer. There is more basketball talent that falls through the cracks than it does in soccer. So having a better opportunity to showcase your talents by partaking in the Olympics grows the appeal with an age limit being installed.
Let’s look at this recent 2014 FIBA World Cup gold medal winning Team USA squad. How many of those guys on that 12-man roster were 24 years old or younger during the tourney? Seven. Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried, Kyrie Irving, Mason Plumlee, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Andre Drummond. Remember also that guys like Damian Lillard and Gordon Hayward got cut at the end of the roster finalization. Adhering to a 24-year-old age restriction wouldn’t be a massive sacrifice for Team USA.
James Harden and DeMar DeRozan both turned 25 just before the group stage. You can always negotiate a cut-off birthday date so that you will get the occasional 25-year-old in an Olympics competition. But wait, isn’t Paul George 24 years old? Yes, but he’s young and already got his first massive contract. Plus, we’re not talking a LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or Kobe Bryant. George is important to the Indiana Pacers, but he’s not a main face for the NBA quite yet. Also, that basketball stanchion in Las Vegas was only 4-feet from the baseline. FIBA regulations require about a 6 and a half foot gap. If George makes that play during a FIBA contest, he has plenty of extra space and doesn’t have that unfortunate leg injury. The NBA is already changing their rule book language to make sure the minimum gap between stanchion and baseline is six feet.
So what would a 12-man U-24 Team USA 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics roster look like? Thanks to this summer’s Team USA and Select squad, it’s not that tough to project.
Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Doug McDermott, Marcus Smart, and Dion Waiters. With the proper coaching, that team should win gold. Not every game would be a 30+ point blowout, but that roster is talented enough to beat any other international team made up of U-24 players.
Who knows what happens in 2 years when Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton are 20 and 22 years old, and have completed their sophomore campaigns in the Association. Maybe they get thrown into the Team USA pool. Aaron has played for the U-16 FIBA Americas team (won gold) and last year’s U-19 FIBA World Championships squad (won gold). Elfrid also was on that U-19 squad. So Jerry Colangelo and his Team USA staff already have those two on their radar.
There are quite a few countries that can field a competitive U-24 squad aside from Team USA. Greece, France, Spain, Canada, Australia, Croatia, Lithuania, and Serbia immediately come to mind. That’s nine teams right there. The Olympics tournament is only 12 teams. Throw in China, Senegal, and one more non-European side and there are your twelve. Talented guys like Evan Fournier, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dante Exum, Dario Saric, Jonas Valanciunas, and more can get extra spotlight. Then you have all of the Team USA guys as well.
EuroBasket and the World Cup now both feature 24 teams, which is one reason why they deserve extra recognition. It’s tougher to get on the podium when there are more teams fighting for gold, silver, and bronze. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still special to receive a medal at the Olympics. NBA franchises are acquiring more and more international players. It’s not good in the long-term to have millionaires play an extra 2-3 months in the offseason for their national teams EVERY single year. You get burned out fast. Look at Yao Ming. Going from playing every year to say every other year increases a player’s longevity immensely.
FIBA no longer holds a U-21 tournament. The last one occurred in 2005. The best part about a U-24 Olympics is that it sort of revives the importance of developing teams built on youth talent. All of these kids that grew up together competing in U-15, U-17, and U-19 tournaments can potentially have a last hurrah (or two) in a summer Olympics that wouldn’t be bogged down with long-time veterans and guys worried about getting injured and screwing up their chances at a huge contract. We’re injecting solutions of safety as well as promoting scouting and youth player growth. For those veterans over the age of 24 hungry to compete for their national team, it makes those other tournaments they are allowed to participate in all the more appealing.
ESPN The Magazine staffers have put together their 2014 ‘Ultimate Team Rankings’ that look at all 122 sports franchises from the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. Hopefully they’ll include MLS starting next year considering Orlando City will be joining that league. Anyway, there’s a very thorough mixture of fan poll voting, team success, and $$ that went into determining the rankings.
First: Consulting firm Maddock Douglas surveyed 1,002 North American fans to form 25 criteria for what you want most in return for the emotion, money and time you invest in the 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams.
Second: Teaming with NetReflector, an opinion research firm, ESPN.com asked fans to rate their home teams in each area; more than 101,000 of you did! We grouped grades into the categories below. Royals fans, for example, ranked Kauffman Stadium much higher (29) than owner David Glass (112).
Third: Our final measure, bang for the buck, uses calculations developed with Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to figure how well teams turn fans’ money into wins. FINALLY We combined each team’s score across all categories into a weighted average. For example, since fans ranked players as more important than ownership, the former counted for 13.9 percent of a team’s final score versus 11.3 percent for the latter. The result? Fan opinion combined with an objective gauge of the cost of winning. Ultimately, everything counts.
Below you’ll find the Orlando Magic finishing 78th overall out of the 122 franchises.
Let’s keep the great news flowing. Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo surprised the youth and representatives from the New Image Youth Center in Parramore on Thursday afternoon with brand new equipment that included big screen televisions, video games, and computers.
Why did the center need new equipment?
Back in 2008, New Image Youth Center was the third reading and learning center the Magic helped to refurbish with new plumbing, painting, furniture, and computers. The center also received $10,000 from the Magic in March of that year to purchase new computer software, school supplies, educational games and books. The majority of those items were stolen this week and the Magic and Oladipo wanted to give them new items to replace what was taken.
Your Orlando Magic are gearing up for a BIG surprise! pic.twitter.com/vPp8Bra2Vv
— Magic Community News (@CommunityLeak) September 18, 2014
The 22-year-old guard was also joined in this feathery deed by Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, New Image Youth Center President Shanta Barton, and City Commissioner Regina Hill.
New Image Youth Center (NIYC) was founded by Shantae Stubbs in June of 2004. NIYC seeks to shelter children from the drugs, gangs, and negative influences within the area and minimize any fear or worry they may feel as a result of their environment. Once worry and fear are removed, children have the freedom to dream. Once free to dream, NIYC seeks to provide experiences that strengthen and empower the kids to achieve their goals by giving them the resources and tools necessary for success and happiness. The vision of the center is to continue growing its services offered to children who are part of the New Image family, as well as increase the number of children to be served in an effort to increase New Image’s impact within the Parramore community.
The Orlando Magic family had a massive supportive showing for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the summer. Well there’s a new challenge hitting the internet with the hashtag #WhippingChildhoodCancer, and the Magic Dancers are the first of the Magic Family to release a video partaking in the challenge. If you go to WhippingChildhoodCancer.com, there is an explanation of the challenge.
Our aim is to raise awareness around the 46 children diagnosed and 7 lost every day to pediatric cancer in the U.S. You have 46 hours to complete the following challenge. You must record a video of yourself taking a pie to the face (can be a paper plate with either whipped cream or shaving cream). Once completing the challenge you must choose a pediatric cancer charity to donate $7 to and tag/challenge 7 friends (46 if you’re feeling really bold!) to make their own pie in the face video. If you’re unable to complete the challenge within 46 hours, you must donate $46 and tag/challenge 7 friends.
Be sure to explain the 46/7 statistic in your video. 46 kids diagnosed every day, and 7 die from pediatric cancer.
The final step of the challenge is simple. Just share your video to Facebook and Twitter with #WhippingChildhoodCancer as the hashtag. And don’t forget to tag either 7 friends or 46 friends depending on whether you completed your challenge in 46 hours.
We have included some text you can use when you share your video. We also ask you post it to the Whipping Childhood Cancer Page if possible, and share the challenge from there.
“I have accepted the #WhippingChildhoodCancer challenge to honor the 46 kids diagnosed with cancer, and the 7 who lose their battle every day. I am tagging 7 of my friends to the challenge as well. All it takes is a pie to the face (whipped cream/cool whip/shaving cream) and then donate $7 to a childhood cancer charity & challenge 7 of your friends. If you don’t do it in 46 hours, you are asked to donate $46 instead, and still tag 7 friends to challenge. For a list of suggested charities to choose from, visit www.WhippingChildhoodCancer.com.”
Simple and detailed enough. It’s a tasty challenge (don’t eat shaving cream), and it’s wallet friendly. Considering how many folks you should nominate following the challenge, this Whipping Cancer Challenge could grow rapidly in popularity. Below is a video of the Magic Dancers taking the challenge and nominating ALL of the Orlando Magic players, team founder Pat Williams, community ambassadors Bo Outlaw and Nick Anderson, the organization’s marketing department, and more.
Considering a lot of the violence issues in the NFL currently, ‘whip’ may not be a popular word at this moment. Still, it’s for charity, and social media is being utilized more creatively to spread awareness for important causes. Probably the coolest thing about this challenge is that there are DOZENS of charities you can donate to.
The Orlando Magic announced that Bill Peterson was the new Head Coach of the Erie BayHawks back in August, but it wasn’t until Tuesday when the 57-year-old was introduced at a press conference that took place in Erie, PA at the John M. and Silvia Ferretti LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center.
A few notable quotes from the energetic Peterson courtesy of Victor Fernandes of the Erie Times-News as well as other BayHawks and Magic members. First, Peterson:
“We ought to be able to find 10 guys that are willing to live up to the standards that we want to set to be productive on the floor every night,”
“If you want to get to the highest level, that’s the time you have to put in,” he said. “By doing that, we’ll win our share of games.”
“Does that mean we’re going to win every game? No,” Peterson said. “But it does mean we can give everything we have to improve those players.”
The man oozes passion and it’s pretty clear why Peterson was given the job. Coach expects to instill an up-tempo offensive style and aggressive man-to-man defense. He specifically name-dropped Joakim Noah as his best ‘multiple-effort player’ example for what type of players he’s seeking in regards to energy and attitude.
BayHawks majority owner Steve Demetriou is ready to see his organization start winning again.
“We talk player development. But for us, it’s equal priority to win and compete for the playoffs,” Demetriou said. “We want to get to the playoffs. We wan to compete for a championship.”
To emphasize the seriousness and commitment of the Magic’s affiliation with the BayHawks, here’s Orlando basketball operations manager George Rodman:
“We’re going to have players here from day one that we’re placing here because we strategically see them as part of the Magic’s future,” said George Rodman, the NBA club’s basketball operations manager, who will team with Director of Pro Scouting Harold Ellis as the BayHawks’ co-general managers. “We wouldn’t have entered into this agreement if we didn’t intend on utilizing this to develop players.”
Former NBA player Anthony Goldwire is the first permanent BayHawks assistant coach brought on Peterson’s staff. Goldwire worked alongside Peterson on Scott Skiles‘ Milwaukee Bucks staff between 2010 and 2013. Rodman says they’re seeking a second full-time assistant and a few interns in the next week. Peterson has been getting recommendations from such former NBA coaches as Del Harris and Frank Layden. Peterson wants assistants that mirror his hard-working approach.
BayHawks president Matt Bresee expects about 50 players to attend a tryout camp Sunday at 9 a.m. at Penn State Behrend’s Junker Center. Last weekend, 75 players tried out in Orlando.
The Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier is in Paris, France following the French national team winning a FIBA World Cup bronze medal in Spain. Evan on Tuesday was on the L’Equipe 21 French program called Menu Sport where Fournier had a sit-down interview with France Pierron. Here are a few excerpts from that 10-minute segment that is translated using Google.
On how he viewed his FIBA World Cup experience with the French national team:
‘Clearly I turned a corner, I learned from a lot of veterans, the coach, about the FIBA game because it’d been three years and I had not played. The last time was in 2011 with the U-20 team. I am very happy to have been part of this World Cup and it will serve me for the NBA this year.’
Evan on how he felt when French Coach Vincent Collet made this statement – in the middle of the tournament – that referenced to Fournier’s ‘volatile’ play: ‘He is not shy when he has the ball. But sometimes I do not like it, it is this form of trust that is almost arrogance’.
‘I’m used to it since I was young I heard a little bit of the same things. I think it’s pointless, unfortunately. When it comes from the coach that’s what hurts the most. Maybe he will have me to call into question, I do not know.’
On his relationship now with Coach Vincent Collet after the conclusion of the tournament:
‘It went very well with Vincent. We learned about each other. He saw that I was a worker, I was there to win, I was not at all there to shine personally. That may be the reputation that I had arrived with, but I’m a winner and I want to win.’
Winning a medal fixes a lot of problems. Based on articles I’ve read from European media outlets, it appears that Coach Collet was not a fan of Fournier’s exuberance and flamboyance on the court. He’s an energetic 21-year-old who feels he can make an impact every time he steps onto the court. That’s more confidence than cockiness in my eyes. It’s not like Evan’s been a bad defender or an offensive ball hog either. Quite the contrary. By the end of the tournament, it became evident that Fournier won over Coach Collet and there shouldn’t be any relationship issues in the future.
Also while in Paris, Evan was asked a question in regards to the Magic by the French media. Another translated response:
‘Orlando relies heavily on me and I hope I proved this tournament they were right to do so. It puts a little pressure on my shoulders, but that’s what I like … and that’s what I need to move forward. It’s a very exciting situation being very young. I am very happy to arrive there and the idea of growing up with this group. It should be a great experience.’
Evan likes ‘pressure’. He mentioned it throughout the FIBA World Cup that when the stakes are high that’s when he’s at his best. In that regard, he wasn’t wrong considering his best performances came in win-or-go-home games.
Evan doesn’t need a wig when you’ve got all the confidence in the world.
The Orlando Magic will host the 24th Annual OMYF Open presented by Chase on Thursday October 16th at Disney’s Magnolia and Palm Golf Courses. The Open is expected to have more than 200 golf participants, Magic talent, celebrities and an awards luncheon. The Open is one of the biggest charitable events hosted by the franchise that on its own raises over $150,000 each year. Here are highlights from last year.
Each year the Magic give more than $2 million to the Central Florida area via sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants. At the heart of the Magic’s charitable efforts is the work done by the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions, 50/50 raffles and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Open Golf Tournament.
Over the last 24 years, more than $18.8 million has been distributed to local nonprofit community organizations through the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF) since 1994. The McCormick Foundation matches all donations to the Fund at fifty cents on the dollar. In 2014, the OMYF-MFF distributed more than $500K to 25 grantee organizations in celebration of the team’s 25th anniversary
Packages and sponsorships for the OMYF Open are available at www.omyfopen.org, or you can call (407) 916-2644.