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Vucevic and O’Quinn to Help Launch “Pure Magic”

2014 September 26
by Adam Papageorgiou

Southwest-cockpit-with-Nik-and-Kyle

The Orlando Magic along with big men Nikola Vucevic and Kyle O’Quinn today (Friday) will head out to Lake Eola to continue helping with the debut of the ‘MAG_C’ structure as part of the “Pure Magic” campaign launch. Fans are invited to come out and take their photo with the MAG_C structure and upload their images with the hashtag #PureMagicSweeps on social media for a chance to win home opening night tickets and other prizes throughout the season.

The event will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando. The sign is near the corner of Central Blvd. and Washington Street. Folks can join the Magic for an ESPN 580 live radio broadcast, prize opportunities and a chance to meet Vucevic and O’Quinn. Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, STUFF the Magic mascot, the Magic Dancers, the Southwest Flight Crew, and the FOX Sports Florida girls will be there. Below is the agenda.

4:00 p.m.         ESPN 580 Live Broadcast

5:00 p.m.         Anderson, Outlaw, STUFF, Magic Dancers, Southwest Flight Crew and FOX Sports Florida girls arrive

6:00 p.m.         Vucevic and O’Quinn arrive

The MAG_C structure is 6.5’ x 28’ and you can’t miss it.

Fans are encouraged throughout the season to upload their photos with the “MAG_C” structure wherever it is in Orlando to participate in the season-long “How are you Pure Magic?” social media sweepstakes using the hashtag #PureMagicSweeps for a chance to win prizes throughout this season. To enter the contest you must be at least 18 years old and a legal resident of Florida who resides within 75 miles of Orlando.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

General Public Magic Single-Game Tickets on Sale Oct. 10th

2014 September 25
by Adam Papageorgiou

dipotickets

Since I know some of you folks have been asking. Orlando Magic single-game tickets for contests through Jan. 3, 2015 of the 2014-15 season are going on sale to the general public on October 10th. There are several ways you can purchase tickets. Online at orlandomagic.com, the Chase box office at Amway Center, all TicketMaster outlets, calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX, and other outlets as well.

Also, don’t forget about the really awesome ‘Fall Fast Break Pass’ deal that the franchise is offering to local fans. The Magic’s first regular season home game inside Amway Center is Thursday October 30th when they host the Washington Wizards. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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‘Pure Magic’ Campaign and Sweepstakes Officially Unveiled

2014 September 25
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo taken by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Photo taken by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

We learned about it ten days ago, but the Orlando Magic on Thursday officially unveiled their brand new ‘Pure Magic’ integrative marketing campaign for its fans and the community. In the photo above you have Magic players Devyn Marble, Elfrid Payton, Willie Green, Channing Frye, and Aaron Gordon posing with the large ‘MAG_C’ sign that folks will be seeing throughout the Central Florida area.

From the press release: Pure Magic speaks to what the Magic organization strives to display on the court, in the community and with the fans. The new campaign updates the Magic’s message and reaffirms the franchise’s unwavering pursuit to unmitigated, pure success while focusing on the fan experience and excitement of what it means to be a Magic fan. Pure Magic is the collection of unique, memorable experiences that fans encounter at Amway Center, enjoying the venue, friends, fans and above all the game. Hallmarks of the campaign are in the Magic’s mantra of competing every night, believing, leading and inspiring as the Magic strive for excellence via integrity, strength, passion and hard work.

I’d say a very thorough explanation. This is obviously replacing the previous ‘WE WILL’ slogan.

“The Orlando Magic’s mission is to be world champions both on and off the court. Pure Magic really reflects our philosophy and how our team, coaches and staff work towards accomplishing that mission,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “This new campaign builds on the tradition and legacy of our organization and signifies the beginning of a new era of excitement for the Orlando Magic. We are focused on this team, our fans and the future and look forward to creating more Pure Magic moments together.”

A team of 25 Magic staff members, including Martins, worked with local advertising firm, GoConvergence, to create the new slogan which was designed to remind fans and partners that the Magic are a cornerstone of this community, a lifestyle, a rallying point. “Pure Magic” will be seen in a variety of other areas including the team’s website, through corporate partners, social media, digital vehicles, collateral pieces, grassroots efforts and on the side of the GEICO Garage bridge connecting to Amway Center. The team will also utilize television, radio, billboard and digital advertising for the campaign.

“Pure Magic is a great statement and a strong message that we wanted to provide to our fans, employees and all of our partners,” said Magic Vice President of Marketing Lisa Cotter. “It’s designed for the fans to know our commitment to building a team that makes them proud and our commitment to their experience. We want them to feel like they are part of a family as we all work together to build this team and compete for a championship while creating memories and experiences to remember.”

The large “MAG_C” structure has been developed in partnership with FOX Sports Florida that will make its way around Central Florida for fans to take photos with as they fill in the “I” to remind them they are an important part of the team and its success. Fans are encouraged to upload their photos with the “MAG_C” structure to participate in the season-long “How are you Pure Magic?” social media sweepstakes using the hashtag #PureMagicSweeps for a chance to win tickets to home opening night, luxury suite night and other prizes throughout the season.

“MAG_C” Structure Locations/Dates:

Sept. 25: Lake Eola Park (in downtown Orlando)

Oct. 26: Park Ave. (in Winter Park)

Oct. 27: Carver Middle School

Oct. 28: Wall Street Plaza (in downtown Orlando)

Oct. 29: UCF

Oct. 30: Amway Center Plaza (corner of Church St. and Division Ave.)*

*Beginning on Oct. 30th, the structure will live in the Amway Center plaza for the next two years

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

VIDEO: Alex Martins Discusses Magic and Downtown Orlando Growth

2014 September 24
by Adam Papageorgiou

martinsfox

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins had a sit-down interview with local television affiliate FOX 35 and was interviewed by Tom Johnson about the state of the franchise entering the 2014-2015 season. Martins discusses a variety of topics including: Year 3 of the rebuild and how it’s a “turn-the-corner” type of year, selling a lot of season tickets, the revitalization projects of Downtown Orlando, the city being a sports town, attracting more events to the Orlando’s new facilities, and more.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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NBA 2K15 Orlando Magic Player Ratings Released

2014 September 24
by Adam Papageorgiou

shaqewing

The NBA season being right around the corner means also that video basketball game freaks are chomping at the bit to get the new NBA 2K15 for their XBOX or PlayStation. It also signifies that Orlando Magic fans are waiting in great anticipation for roster player ratings.

One of the cool commercial promotions featured prominently on television involves playing with the mid-’90s Magic squad.

Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Horace Grant, Dennis Scott, Brian Shaw. Fun. You can relive the Shaw-Shaq Redemption alley oop connection and practice nailing Penny’s patented turnaround jumper.

The newest game in the 2K Series is being released on October 7th. But you don’t have to wait that long to see overall Magic player ratings. We’ve got you covered.

2k15magicratings

Apparently 2K15 revamped their ratings as I’m sure die hard gamers have noticed. Dewayne Dedmon is unfortunately one of the lowest rated players in the game. I don’t know anyone who would prefer Joel Anthony over Dewayne, but I’m not part of their thinking brigade. At least Dedmon is rated. Devyn Marble didn’t make the 424-player rating cut-off and so he’s currently not in the game. That’ll will change most likely following the first update. Both Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton have 74 ratings on 2K15, lower than they each predicted. Despite very different skill sets, cousins Tobias Harris and Channing Frye are tied for the 3rd-highest Magic rating at 76 overall.

I’m a tad bit surprised that Victor Oladipo isn’t the highest rated Magic man in the game. That honor belongs to Nikola Vucevic is an 80 overall rating and ranks 71st among all NBA players. I’ll gladly take that since the Montenegrin only played 57 games last season. A 78 rating seems low for ‘Dipo, but he’s ranked 84th among all NBA players. So not that bad. Hopefully as the season progresses we will notice player ratings rising with every online game update.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

Orlando Has a Big 3…They Just Don’t Play Enough Together

2014 September 24

dipot12vooch

Last season the Orlando Magic finished with a 23-59 record. The team’s three highest points per game scorers still on the squad – Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, and Victor Oladipo – only played 34 games together last season. That’s because Vucevic only managed to play 57 games in the ’13-’14 campaign while Tobias played 61. The national pundits want to proclaim that this franchise doesn’t have a star. I’m here to prove that T12, ‘Dipo, and Vucci Mane are Orlando’s own version of a ‘Big 3′.

As stated previously, those 3 guys only played on the court together in 34 contests in Jacque Vaughn‘s second year at the coaching helm. BUT, they each were on the court for 25+ minutes in only 17 of those contests. It’s beyond difficult to find pictures of just the three of them they played so little together. Their record in those seventeen contests was 9-8. OVER .500 which is more than enough to make the East playoffs. 8-4 at home, but just 1-4 on the road.

dipoharrisvucevic

 

You’ll notice though that ‘Dipo, Vooch, and Tobias only started 8 of the above games for a 3-5 record. Still a better winning percentage than 23-59. In the 17 games from our pool study, Orlando was 4-6 against playoff teams. Not bad for a supposedly awful squad.

Obviously a regular season is much larger than seventeen games. A combination of injuries, foul trouble, and subtle tanking were large factors in Magic fans rarely seeing those three guys on the floor together. It’s not asking much to expect Tobias, Nik, and Victor to be on the court for over twenty-five minutes per contest in the ’14-’15 campaign. The big question of course: Can you take 17 games worth of data – which is 1/5 of an NBA campaign – and expand that out over an 82-game season? We’re going to find out soon enough.

In the 2013-2014 season, Tobias averaged 14.6 ppg, Vucevic had 14.2 ppg (11.0 rpg), and Oladipo was at 13.8 ppg. That’s a combined 42.6 points per contest from your 22, 23, and 22-year-old. Looking at how they performed in the 17 games, the scoring improves quite a lot. Harris’ average gets up to 17.4 ppg, Vucci Mane gets up to 16.7 ppg (12.4 rpg), and Victor was at 14.6 ppg for a combined total average of 48.7 points per contest.

A 6.1 ppg combined improvement in comparison to entire regular season averages. The Magic in ’13-’14 lost SIXTEEN games by six or fewer points. Add that 6.1 ppg into the scoring margins and we go from twenty-three Orlando wins all the way up to a 39-43 record last season. That would have been one game better than the Atlanta Hawks to claim the 8th seed in the East. Boom. Playoffs. Just like that.

It’s not the 62.3 ppg that LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade averaged in Miami last season, but it doesn’t need to be. Look at the Spurs. The top 3 scorers in their championship winning regular season were Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard. Those three averaged 44.6 ppg which is LESS than the Magic trio above. Yeah they had Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, and Patty Mills also average over ten points per game, but the Magic will have guys like Channing Frye and Evan Fournier helping out with the scoring load. But contract extensions or not, we know that for Orlando to succeed this year it’s going to come down to how often and how well Vic, T12, and Vooch perform.

It is not crazy to go from 20 wins, to 23 wins, and into the playoffs the next season. The Oklahoma City Thunder did it. I’m not saying Tobias, Vucevic, and Oladipo are the next Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. Though the Spurs or Thunder model would all get tied back to how we viewed the initial hiring of GM Rob Hennigan. Anyway, I’m also not saying the Magic will go from a 23-win season and now win 50 games and reach the Conference Finals like OKC did in their 2009-2010 campaign. I’m optimistic, but not crazy. But it’s not improbable for this Magic roster to reach the playoffs this upcoming season.

If Orlando’s Big 3 can stay healthy and show improvement from last season – add to that some improved 3-point shooting and energetic rookies into the mix – you can sneak into the postseason even in a stronger East.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

Magic Players Have Two of Top 5 20-20 Game Performances

2014 September 23
by Adam Papageorgiou

harrisvucevic

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.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

Ben Gordon Helps Magic’s Hoops for Hunger Program

2014 September 23
by Adam Papageorgiou

bogordon

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.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

Orlando City Defeats Magic in ‘OBJ’ Branding Poll

2014 September 22
by Adam Papageorgiou

mlscitylogo

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.

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.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

How Oladipo and Tobias Can Play in the 2016 Olympics

2014 September 19
by Adam Papageorgiou

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic

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.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek