I love it when Orlando’s two major sports franchises combine forces to do good for the Central Florida community. To begin the school year for local students, the Orlando City Soccer Club will join the Orlando Magic in City Commissioner Regina Hill’s Back to School Bash at the Callahan Neighborhood Center (101 N. Parramore Avenue, Orlando, 32801) on Saturday August 8th from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The event is open to the public. As part of the back-to-school efforts, 500 youth from the District 5 community and the Parramore Kidz Zone will receive a voucher for a backpack courtesy of Amway and the Magic filled with Dixon Ticonderoga school supplies. Orlando City Soccer Club will provide an additional 500 backpacks for the District 5 community as well. Other activities include music provided by 104 .5 The Beat, a moon bounce inflatable, a video game truck, the Magic RV Game Station, Magic tent with MAGIC FIT items, Magic pop-a-shot, lunch courtesy of H.J. High Construction, toiletries, and school supplies. Random prizes and giveaways will be at each station. OCSC will also host a youth soccer clinic.
The day will also include appearances by Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, Magic Dancers, Magic flight crew, and Commissioner Regina Hill. Additional event contributions are provided by Magic partners Amway, Dixon Ticonderoga, and PepsiCo. This is a very great thing both franchises and the community are providing to children. The Magic solely hosted the event last year.
UPDATE: 8/9/2015 7:57 a.m.
Nice job, folks.
Packing 500 backpacks in 90 minutes is no easy feat…We have the condensed version here! pic.twitter.com/BwwA4Uc6XT
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 8, 2015
Our team gave away a whopping 500 backpacks at the Back to School Bash! Thank you to everyone who came out! pic.twitter.com/E6VjmldECy
— Magic Community News (@CommunityLeak) August 8, 2015
The Orlando Magic hosted its second MAGIC FIT Draft Combine on Tuesday afternoon at the Silver Star Magic Gym. The youth basketball celebration also featured Magic player Devyn Marble, Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, Orlando Magic staff, and about 70 youth from the Silver Star Magic Gym summer program.
— Magic Community News (@CommunityLeak) August 4, 2015
— Magic Community News (@CommunityLeak) August 4, 2015
— Orlando Magic PRDish (@Magic_PRDish) August 4, 2015
MAGIC FIT is the team’s first-ever fitness and nutrition education program for youth. Following the NBA FIT guidelines, the program’s goal is to improve the knowledge of healthy food choices and fitness exercises among at-risk children within Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties. MAGIC FIT’s purpose is to teach children the importance of physical activity through music and dance.
“The Magic are excited to continue this program for the youth in our community,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “Physical fitness and obesity are a large problem among today’s youth. We hope MAGIC FIT will continue to resonate with our children and make staying active and eating healthy a common practice. Together we can use the game of basketball to point our youth towards a healthier future.”
The Orlando Magic have added another player for their training camp roster, announcing the official signing of forward Melvin Ejim.
Ejim (6’6”, 220, 3/4/91) played in 47 games (45 starts) last season with Virtus Roma in Italy, averaging 7.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 1.0 spg in 24.1 minutes per contest. He recently played with the Orlando Magic “White” team during
the 2015 Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League, averaging 9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 apg and 1.0 spg in 30.0 minutes per game on 45.2 FG% and 40.0 3PT% (4-of-10). His effort and hustle helped the team make it to the title game in July.
No terms of the deal are officially known, but David Pick was the first to report early on Tuesday that it’s partially guaranteed so as to lure the 24-year-old into training camp.
Orlando Magic invite overseas forward Melvin Ejim to training camp, source said. Some guaranteed cash included.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) August 4, 2015
Why the guaranteed money? Because Ejim had already signed with German squad Medi Bayreuth for the ’15-’16 campaign. It was unreasonable to expect Ejim to bail Europe without receiving some type of compensation for his efforts. Whatever was done, Ejim successfully negotiated his way out of that German deal and will now show his worth to Scott Skiles‘ coaching staff.
How much guaranteed money? Your guess is as good as mine. As a point of reference though, Orlando gave Seth Curry ($150,000), Kadeem Batts ($150,000), Drew Crawford ($75,000), and Peyton Siva ($100,000) guaranteed money to bring them into last year’s training camp before sending them down to the Erie BayHawks. This is a different situation though. Ejim is expected to participate in preseason.
The ’15-’16 contract for Dewayne Dedmon just became guaranteed on August 1st. Orlando has 13 guaranteed contracts. Devyn Marble isn’t guaranteed. Second round selection Tyler Harvey – who I’ve raved about – is unsigned. Keith Appling was rumored to also be signed to a training camp deal, but the Magic haven’t officially announced anything. The acquisition of Shabazz Napier has left the future status of Harvey and Appling questionable at best.
Ejim, who was not drafted in 2014, played in 135 games (126 starts) during four seasons at Iowa State University from 2010-2014, averaging 12.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.4 apg and 1.1 spg in 27.8 mpg while shooting 49.7% (596-1,158) from the floor. He finished his collegiate career as the Cyclones’ all-time leader in games played and games started. Ejim also finished on the school’s all-time list in rebounding (second, 1,051) and is the only player in ISU history to amass 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 100 steals.
The Canadian-Nigerian was named the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2013-2014. He helped Iowa State captured the 2013-14 Big 12 Tournament championship and reach the Sweet Sixteen during the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
The Cyclone will give Iowa Hawkeye Devyn Marble some competition. Marble’s contract for the ’15-’16 campaign doesn’t become guaranteed until the start of the regular season, so Melvin could snatch the spot away. I like Ejim but I like Marble too. Both will have to out-defend and out-shoot the other.
He’s still raw but I see some Al-Farouq Aminu in Ejim, but with a higher effort level and a more reliable jump shot. Melvin can change a game with his defense and transition abilities. Before the late-September training camp comes around though, Ejim will try and make the final 12-man Canadian national team roster for the FIBA Americas championship that will occur in 4 weeks. Ejim joined Andrew Nicholson in Toronto last week to help Canada win silver at the Pan Am Games. Ejim averaged 7.2 ppg and 3.6 rpg in about fifteen minutes per game for coach Jay Triano’s Canada squad in those five contests.
The Orlando Magic Volunteer Program (MVP) contributed 6,270 hours of community service for the 2014-2015 season (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) surpassing the goal of 6,000 hours as an organization for the 9th straight year!
More than 220 employees (full-time, part-time, interns, players, and coaches) participated in numerous events throughout the year – as you’ve read on this site – with a large focus on the Magic’s three areas of interest—education, hunger and health/wellness.
The events included reading and learning center renovations, full staff food packing and distribution event with UnitedHealthcare benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank, Magic Fit Fun Day at Greenwood Lakes Middle School, Thanksgiving at the Coalition for the Homeless, Black Tie and Tennies Gala benefiting the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF), OMYF Open charity golf tournament, Magic and Pepsi youth holiday shopping spree, NBA Cares Day of Service at the Mustard Seed and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
This past season, the Magic had 28 staff members serve on a total of 62 different local boards including Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, City Year Orlando and Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, to name just a few.
The MVP was developed to encourage Orlando Magic employees to get out and get involved in the community. The program began in July of 2006 with the goal of performing 2,000 hours of community service during the 2006-07 season; more than 3,800 hours were tracked that first year.
Since the program’s inception, more than 53,000 hours in the Central Florida community have been tracked. MVP is unique in that it allows employees to volunteer during work hours. As an added incentive, employees who reach a certain level of volunteer hours in the community will be invited to a recognition luncheon and receive a monetary donation to a charity of their choice. That’s all pretty fantastic.
Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic had an eventful 4 days in Johannesburg, South Africa as the Montenegrin donated his services to a great NBA initiative. It was more than just playing the first NBA game ever on the African continent. It was bringing good to African communities in great need as well as helping with the Basketball Without Borders program. Team World v. Team Africa was secondary.
Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo has been keeping active in unconventional ways this week. The 23-year-old decided to mix up his usual offseason workout routines, and put on his fun hat.
First off, Oladipo along with folks like former Magic player and current community ambassador Bo Outlaw as well as Stuff the Magic mascot combined to debut the Magic Fit Shuffle.
Bo’s still the man.
More importantly, Oladipo made a guest appearance on ESPN’s SportsNation. Vic decided to please the crowd and embarrass Marcellus Wiley in the process by dunking all kinds of nastiness over and through him.
😱 Via @sportsnation: @vicoladipo puts Marcellus Wiley on a poster! #PureMagic A video posted by Orlando Magic (@orlandomagic) on
I don’t care how big the basketball or hoop are, it’s always fun to throw down a windmill on another human being. Along with creating that beautiful posterization, Vic apparently wants another shot at the slam dunk competition.
— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) July 29, 2015
As long as Zach LaVine continues to participate in that event, it’s tough to think anyone will overthrow him any time soon.
Don’t worry, Vic’s spending a lot of his summer on the courts and watching a lot of basketball film to improve himself.
The Orlando Magic very well could still have two of their players participate at the August 31st-to-September 12th FIBA Americas pre-Olympic qualifying tournament after all. Andrew Nicholson – coming off a strong Pan Am Games – will most likely represent Canada in Mexico. Puerto Rican national team coach Rick Pitino came out in June and stated he was recruiting Maurice Harkless. Moe of course was recently traded to Portland.
Now comes news of the Puerto Rican national team also recruiting new Magic man Shabazz Napier. elnuevodia.com reports that the president of the Puerto Rican national basketball federation, Carlos Beltran, revealed that Coach Pitino is trying to negotiate with Napier and the Magic to allow the 24-year-old to train and play at the FIBA Americas Championship for them.
Napier is half-Puerto Rican as his mom is ethnically Puerto Rican. Harkless has a grandparent that’s from P.R. The national team is training in Louisville currently – where Harkless will report this week – which is convenient for Pitino since he’s the coach of the Cardinals college basketball program. Enough of Moe, he’s a Blazer now.
Napier hasn’t actually played for the national team on this large of a stage. He’s come close. We’ll see if ‘Bazz ends up playing for Puerto Rico next month. Again, I’m always in favor of these younger professional athletes playing international ball. It brings them new perspective on the game.
The top 2 team finishers at the FIBA Americas tourney receive automatic qualification to the Olympics next year in Brazil. Team USA already has their automatic bid, which is why they won’t compete in a month. Both Canada and Puerto Rico are in Group B of the FIBA Americas competition. Canada plays Puerto Rico on September 4th in the group stage.
Here’s a nice highlight video of what Napier may be able to do.
The Orlando Magic are in the process of completing a trade with the Miami Heat that will bring guard Shabazz Napier to O-Town in exchange for…almost nothing. This as first reported by Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has the details of what the Magic are giving in return.
The Magic essentially will acquire Napier for nothing. ORL will send its 2016 2nd-round pick to MIA, but that pick is protected 31-55.
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) July 26, 2015
A top-55 protected 2016 Draft selection in exchange for the 24th overall pick in the 2014 Draft. A now 24-year-old player who led UCONN to winning the championship that year. Sounds like Rob Hennigan took advantage of Miami needing to save some money with their luxury tax issues. Depending on what rumors you like reading about, Napier was somewhat on Orlando’s radar in that ’14 Draft with their #12 pick before doing the Dario Saric–Elfrid Payton deal.
Before signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James gave his endorsement of the Heat front office selecting Napier. That explains why Miami gave up a decent amount of assets to trade up two spots with the Charlotte Hornets to take Napier. So if you relish in seeing Orlando’s sunshine state rival make bad moves, savor this deal because they wasted some pieces with Napier’s Miami departure.
So Heat spent a 2014 first-round pick, a 2014 second-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick and cash for . . . one season of Napier. — Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 26, 2015
In 51 games and 10 starts, Napier averaged 5.1 ppg, 2.5 apg, and 2.2 rpg on 38.2 FG% and 36.4 3PT% his rookie campaign in Miami. The 3-point shooting is the most promising part of Napier’s game that could immediately help Orlando.
As for what Napier does to the Magic’s picture, a couple of thoughts come to mind.
Orlando still remains under the salary cap as Napier is only getting paid about $1.3 million in the ’15-’16 season. Shabazz has team options for ’16-’17 ($1.35 million) and ’17-’18 ($2.36 million), so the Magic hold a lot of power in regards to what they can do with Napier. If he has a bad training camp and preseason, the Magic could decline the team option for next season, or even – more drastically – cut him and only worry about the $1.3 million owed to Napier this season while giving someone else the roster spot.
Napier is coming off a sports hernia surgery in March that ended his rookie campaign. The 6’1″, 180-pounder did look good playing for Miami’s Summer League team earlier this month. I don’t view Napier as a good defender. A feisty guy who will bring effort, but a lot of inconsistencies in his game. It’s a low-risk, possible high-reward situation in acquiring Napier.
Orlando Magic big man Andrew Nicholson and the Canadian national team had to settle for the silver medal on Saturday in the Pan Am Games senior men’s basketball final. They fell to Brazil 86-71. Nicholson tallied 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting (1-of-2 on triples) and 3 rebounds. Canada as a whole shot a terrible 32% from the field including 6-of-24 on triples. Just not the ideal contest to shoot ice cold.
For as fantastic as the Canada-USA semifinal was with that electric Toronto atmosphere, there was little drama and a lot of frustration for anyone supporting Canada in the Gold Medal Game. Brazil led 26-13 after the first period, and Canada never could quite make a game of it.
Overall, the 25-year-old Nicholson had a fantastic 5 games in 5 days. ‘Drew averaged 18.2 ppg and 8.0 rpg on 51.6 FG% (33-of-64) and 38.9 3PT% (7-of-18). Plenty of confidence gained for the Mississauga, Ontario native.
— Canada Basketball (@CanBball) July 26, 2015
Silver is still an outstanding accomplishment for Canada, it’s their best finish ever at a Pan Am Games competition. It continues to confirm that coach Jay Triano has that country on the rise in basketball.
Next comes the FIBA Americas tournament which runs from late-August through mid-September and takes place in Mexico. Top two teams in that competition earn automatic qualification into the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nicholson will definitely be on that 12-man roster, but it’s unknown if he’ll continue to be a starter depending on what players get selected.
Don’t tell me the Pan Am Games don’t matter. Look at those faces full of emotion. Orlando Magic big man Andrew Nicholson has an opportunity to win his first medal in international play. That’s because the 25-year-old tallied a remarkable 31 points and 10 rebounds in a 111-108 overtime semifinals victory over Team USA on Friday at the Pan Am Games. Nicholson shot 12-of-20 from the field, including 3-for-9 from behind the 3-point line. What a thriller of a game.
Jamal Murray had 22 points. More importantly, the 18-year-old scored each of his 8 field goal makes in the fourth period and overtime. He pushed Canada to force overtime. This kid is going to be a fun prospect at Kentucky. Anthony Bennett added 18 points and 14 rebounds. Canada’s main advantage was the 50-29 rebounding gap. In defeat, Bobby Brown led USA with 25 points while Anthony Randolph (you remember that guy) had 21 points.
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) July 25, 2015
Nicholson separated a tight first half with crucial back-to-back 3-pointer to give Canada a decent 47-40 lead late in the second period. It makes you wonder why Andrew doesn’t get even more touches. No one has been able to stop him on the post and on the perimeter.
Jay Triano’s Canadian squad led 52-47 at the half as Nicholson had already notched 16 points and 7 rebounds by the break. Out of the locker rooms, Andrew would assert himself often during the 3rd ten-minute session. Nicholson posted a 13-point third quarter.
Nicholson would drive in for smooth and-1 with 2:56 left in the 3rd period to put Canada up 68-67. Unfortunately for Andrew, that put him at 29 points. So Nicholson would only score two more points the rest of the way. USA – behind some hot 3-point shooting – went ahead 80-74 entering the fourth period. Andrew did his part carrying Canada for the majority of the regulation. It was time for the baton exchange. Thankfully for Canada, that’s when Jamal Murray and Anthony Bennett took over while USA cooled off from the perimeter.
Andrew’s final points came on a running floater to put Canada ahead 90-86 with five and a half minutes remaining in regulation. The atmosphere at the Ryerson Athletic Centre was fantastic. What a seesaw battle late. And it got even better after Jamal Murray drained a ridiculous step-back triple with 37 seconds remaining to eventually send the game to overtime at 97-97. This guy is only eighteen!
In the 5-minute overtime, Canada began the session with a 5-0 run. USA didn’t back down, going on a 6-0 run of their own. Murray would drain another crazy shot, then Randolph drilled a 3-pointer for USA before Murray drained another 3-pointer as Canada led 107-106 with 1:29 left in the overtime. Clutch shot after clutch shot, but Canada would not relinquish the lead from there. Another Murray step-back 3-pointer with 55 seconds left was essentially the dagger.
A scary situation occurred for Andrew in the final minute. Nicholson was about to go up for a rebound but his leg got tangled up with Ryan Hollins under the rim. Andrew stayed on the ground getting his left leg worked on by the Canadian training staff. It was a foul against Hollins, but Nicholson couldn’t finish the contest with 43.9 seconds remaining so Carl English had to take his free throw attempts. Team USA had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Bobby Brown missed the open corner triple and the celebrations were on in Toronto.
It seems Andrew was just cramping up, and he will be fine for the title game.
Andrew Nicholson said he’s fine. Just cramps.
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) July 25, 2015
Team USA now has to settle for playing the Dominican Republic in the Bronze Medal Game. That’s Saturday at 11 a.m. EST.
Canada is 4-0, they will face the also 4-0 Brazilian national team in the title game at 4:30 p.m. EST on Saturday. The fifth game in 5 days for both teams. Both squads will be on the podium at the conclusion of this contest, it’s just a matter of who stands a little higher. Andrew is going to play an enormous role once again in determining the outcome. We’ll see who walks way with silver, and who claims gold.