We are a month away from Orlando Magic training camp beginning. NBA fans are usually bored out of their minds this time of year, but that’s where the wonderful invention of video games comes in. September will be dominated by talk of the new NBA 2K17 game, and this is where team and player ratings/rankings are beginning to get revealed.
This is where Friday took a bit of an unfortunate turn for wing player Evan Fournier. The 23-year-old Frenchman dropped a tweet that showed his rating as well as what he’ll look like in the game.
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) August 26, 2016
Uh…yeah…Ronnie2K has some explaining to do.
So my reactions to this ‘reveal’ went in this order:
- That’s not Evan Fournier, not even close
- That Magic jersey looks wrong, especially the narrow ‘MAGIC’ font
- His eyes are haunting
- How long before Nikola Vucevic makes a balding joke?
- That 78 rating seems a tad bit low
Newly signed Orlando Magic big man Bismack Biyombo and team head of pro scouting Harold Ellis will be among the participating NBA and FIBA figures at the first Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa Camp in Angola.
It will be held August 31st through September 3rd at Pavilhão Multiusos do Kilamba in Luanda for the top 87 boys and girls from 27 African countries. Biyombo – from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – will be one of the main faces volunteering their time.
BWB Africa will be supported by the Angolan Basketball Federation (Federaçao Angolana de Basquetebol) and the Angola Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Other NBA players who will attend include Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix Suns; U.S.), Luc Mbah a Moute (LA Clippers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2003), Salah Mejri (Dallas Mavericks; Tunisia), Thabo Sefolosha (Atlanta Hawks; Switzerland), and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets; U.S.).
The NBA players will be joined by NBA Global Ambassador and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo); former NBA players Charlie Bell (U.S.), Jason Collins (U.S.), ex-Magic man Olumide Oyedeji (Nigeria); and former WNBA players Astou Ndiaye-Diatta (Senegal), and Jenn Lacy (U.S.). And then there’s a plethora of coaches and front office folks.
A record 10 African players were on NBA rosters at the start of last season, and five African players were selected in June’s Draft. The camp has always been designed to provide young players from across the continent a chance at on-court success, while helping to set them up for great lives off it.
BWB is celebrating its 15th anniversary this summer.
Working closely with longtime NBA Cares partners UNICEF and Hoops 4 Hope, NBA Cares will organize a variety of community outreach efforts teaching the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle, and the values of the game.
NBA players and coaches will host a Jr. NBA basketball clinic at Kilamba Arena for 100 boys and girls from two schools in the Luanda area. NBA Cares will also support two local schools – Blue Horizon Orphanage and School and Escola 1056 – with refurbishments, donations, and a visit from NBA players during the trip. In addition, Hoops 4 Hope will lead daily life skills sessions for the campers, focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention, education, leadership lessons, and character development.
Nike will outfit the campers and coaches with Nike apparel and footwear.
Since 2001, BWB has reached more than 2,500 participants from 131 countries and territories. 43 campers have been drafted into the NBA, including 9 BWB Africa campers. 21 former BWB campers were on opening-night rosters for the 2015-2016 NBA season.
The first-ever Basketball without Borders camp took place in Europe in July 2001. Since then, the NBA and FIBA have staged 46 BWB camps in 27 cities across 23 countries on six continents. More than 215 current and former NBA, WNBA, and FIBA players have joined more than 170 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams to support BWB across the world.
The 2016-2017 season will be the last one in which the Orlando Magic have a relationship with their BayHawks D-League team up in Erie, Pennsylvania. Lakeland, Florida is expected to be the home base of Orlando’s developmental team come the start of the ’17-’18 campaign. But, I’m jumping the gun a bit. The NBA Development League released their ’16-’17 schedule on Monday.
The BayHawks’ season tips off November 12th at Erie Insurance Arena against the Windy City Bulls, one of 3 new teams to join the D-League this upcoming campaign. The complete schedule can be viewed here.
Conferences and divisions shifted as a result of the three additional franchises and the relocation of two others: The Idaho Stampede to Salt Lake City Stars, and Bakersfield Jam to Northern Arizona Suns.
The BayHawks remain in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and welcome the Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte’s team) and Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s squad). The Delaware 87ers, Maine Red Claws, and Westchester Knicks round out the remainder of the division.
With the shift finalized, the BayHawks have 40 conference games and 10 non-conference games scheduled. Two additional regular season games will be played at the annual NBA D-League Showcase in January. Those games and location will be announced at a later date.
The ’16-’17 season marks the BayHawks’ 9th season as a NBA Development League franchise, and 3rd season as the affiliate of the Magic. Bill Peterson will once again be the head coach.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
August 22, 1986 isn’t marked down as a special day in Orlando Magic franchise history. It probably should be. 1986 was the year the Central Florida area was going to leap into the professional sports spotlight…whether its residents were planning on it or not.
June 19, 1986 is a fairly famous day for those alive at the time. That was the morning that local businessman Jim Hewitt and the then recently ex-Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Pat Williams unveiled orange t-shirts that read ‘Orlando on the Way to the NBA’ and officially announced to anyone willing to listen that Orlando was throwing its hat into the ring of National Basketball Association expansion.
Think about 1986 for a minute. The metropolitan population of the Orlando area is over 2.3 million people now. Three decades ago, it was about 600,000.
That was back when Orlando was literally known for Disney World, orange trees, golfing, and a place to go to retire. College football and MLB spring training only occupied a tiny portion of the 12-month calendar. No major professional sports franchises to call their own. Dirt and gravel roads – or at least poorly paved concrete ones – were everywhere.
There were plans for the town’s first big-time arena to be built so that they could begin attracting various events, but the financing was far from approved when this NBA conquest began. Getting an NBA franchise would certainly accelerate and solidify those plans. Williams, Hewitt, and a tiny staff began accepting $100 season ticket deposits from residents so that evidence could be given to the NBA that basketball in Orlando could work.
July 27, 1986 was the day the potential Orlando franchise got their name. ‘Magic’. This is where immense ambition from a few individuals can be a wonderful thing when it comes to inspiring the masses. Everyone was skeptical of what Hewitt and Williams were looking to accomplish. Citizens, politicians, media. ‘Why would the NBA come here?’
Well, through a ton of perseverance in a short amount of time, local opinions changed fast. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly when belief kicked in, but I’d like to think an August 18, 1986 Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting played a noticeable role in letting its citizens know that this pursuit of an NBA franchise was no joke.
Orlando Magic wing Mario Hezonja may have saved his best Olympic performance for last. It’s too bad it occurred in a narrow loss, as Croatia fell 86-83 to Serbia in the quarterfinals. Hezonja tallied 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists on 4-of-8 shooting (2-of-5 on 3s) in 27 minutes of action, as well as being a clutch 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final minute of play while Croatia was desperate to draw even.
Croatia had a disastrous third period, but managed to win the fourth 31-20, and on numerous occasions were just unable to tie it up in the final two minutes. Mario had the ball in his hands plenty during that comeback as his floor general skills proved worthy. Despite leaving Brazil empty-handed though, this Croatia team will only get better as the years progress.
Bojan Bogdanovic may have scored a game-high 28 points, but Hezonja was more efficient than the go-to guy. Miro Bilan was the only other Croatia to reach double figures with 10 points. Dario Saric was bad, only managing 7 points. Serbia was led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 18 points. They got 12 points each from Stefan Markovic, Miroslav Raduljica, and Nikola Jokic.
Serbia only shot 41 FG%, but Croatia losing the turnover battle 18-10 is what did them in. Krunoslav Simon had 5, Saric had three giveaways, and Bogdanovic had 4 turnovers. Hezonja only coughed it up once.
In 6 games in Rio de Janeiro for Croatia, Hezonja averaged 9.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 1.3 apg on 48.6 FG% and 50.0 3PT% (12-of-24) in 21.7 minutes per contest. It’s by far the best senior tourney performance for Mario to date. Great efficiency.
The Erie BayHawks, in partnership with the Orlando Magic, have scheduled their 2016-2017 D-League season open tryouts for next month.
September 18th in Erie at Penn State-Behrend Junker Center, and September 25th in Orlando at Barnett Park are your dates. This will be the last season that Orlando’s developmental team will be in Pennsylvania, as it’s expected that Lakeland, FL will be the home of the Magic’s D-League franchise come the ’17-’18 campaign.
Players interested in participating in the tryouts are required to complete the registration forms found here or at the BayHawks front office.
Forms must be submitted by September 12th for the Erie tryout and September 18th for the Orlando tryouts with a money order or cashier’s check payable to the Erie BayHawks containing the $150 registration fee. The fee can also be paid by registering online. The Erie tryout registration can be found here and the Orlando registration here.
Pre-registration is highly advised as space is limited. Both locations are one-day tryouts. Players will be evaluated by Orlando Magic personnel. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the official start time at 9:00 a.m.
Good luck to those of you trying out.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The scenarios were well known for Croatia entering their final Group B match against Lithuania on Monday night. Beat Lithuania and win Group B, setting up a quarterfinal with Serbia. Lose and Croatia would finish 4th in Group B, scheduling a date with Team USA in the quarterfinals.
Croatia was victorious on Monday night, defeating Lithuania 90-81 in impressive fashion. They shot 53 FG% including 11-of-19 on 3s, while holding Lithuania to just 11-of-28 on triple attempts.
Orlando Magic wing Mario Hezonja came off the bench, contributing 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal on 2-of-4 shooting (2-of-3 on 3s) in 22:30 game action. Mario played the entire second period, as well as the final 12:30 of the contest. His defense and offensive decoy presence were enough to keep him on the floor.
The Orlando Magic unveiled their new ‘Stars’ uniform, and – like with the ‘Pride’ sleeved gear – many people hated hard on those jerseys.
We continue to be hurt at how bad the Orlando Magic’s Twitter poll fan voting is going when deciding who the Top 25 players in franchise history are. After Ryan Anderson went on a run, Vince Carter is dwarfing that by demolishing everyone in his path.
Mario Hezonja and Croatia continue through their Group B pool play at the Olympics.
I reveal how the International Olympic Committee is very unhappy with him.
This episode of the podcast concludes with a look at the 2016-2017 regular season schedule and what matchups and road trips appear intriguing.
Warning: Adult Language
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The path to the quarterfinals just got a lot more difficult for the Orlando Magic’s Mario Hezonja and his Croatian national teammates. They fell 90-76 to Nigeria on Saturday night, leaving the door open now for Croatia to not progress from Group B and instead endure a disappointing trip home.
“2 games. 2 wins to history.” That was the message that Nigeria’s coach William Voigt told his winless team prior to tip-off as that’s what it would take to get into their first Olympic quarterfinal ever. His players definitely bought in to that pregame speech.
However, early on it looked like Croatia was going to take care of business when they led 28-21 after one quarter. They then tallied a horrific 11 points in the second period, and Nigeria knew they definitely could claim victory as they would ride hot 3-point shooting to a historic win for that African nation.
Super Mario had his worst shooting outing of these Olympics, finishing with 5 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 turnover on 2-of-8 shooting including 1-of-5 on 3-pointers in about 16 minutes of play. All of his points came in the first 7 minutes of the contest. As the game progressed and Croatia began to struggle, so did Mario.
Hezonja wasn’t the only player to struggle offensively as players like Dario Saric (7 points) and Krunoslav Simon (2 points on 1-of-7 FGs) couldn’t contribute scoring wise. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points, and Roko Ukic (10 points) was the only other Croatian to reach double digits. Michael Umeh led Nigeria with 19 points, and Josh Akognon chipped in with 18 points.
Nigeria crushed it from 3-point range, shooting 47.2 3PT% (17-of-36) while Croatia was just a bad 21.4 3PT% (6-of-28) from deep. Here is Hezonja’s shot chart:
We already knew about October’s exhibition schedule, but the Orlando Magic 2016-2017 regular season schedule was revealed on Thursday. Orlando opens training camp on September 27th at the Amway Center.
It’s still 82 games. 41 at home. 41 away. The Magic will play 52 games against the Eastern Conference. 18 games v. the Atlantic Division, 18 games v. the Central Division, and 16 games v. the Southeast Division, and 30 games against the Western Conference (ten games against each West division).
As previously written, Orlando’s opening night will be Wednesday October 26th when they host the Miami Heat at Amway Center. It’s the first time the two sunshine state teams will have faced off against each other to open a regular season since 1993, and the first time in Orlando since 1992.
That’s the good news. The rough news is after that, Orlando has a difficult back-to-back. They visit Detroit on Friday October 28th to face Tobias Harris, Stan Van Gundy, and the Pistons. Then they visit Channing Frye up in Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers on Saturday October 29th for the second night of a back-to-back.
The 3-game road trip continues Tuesday November 1st as Frank Vogel’s club goes to Philadelphia. It’s the first time the Magic will face Philly with Dario Saric on the Sixers roster. Along with being a Croatian national teammate of Mario Hezonja, the Magic traded Saric to Philly during the 2014 NBA Draft in order to acquire Elfrid Payton. Here’s to the young point guard having a big time.
The Magic will play 15 back-to-backs this campaign. League average is 16.3. Orlando only has one stretch of 4 games in 5 nights (December 6th-10th). That sounds reasonable. Orlando will play a total of 18 home games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this season at home. Orlando plays 9 homes games in November, and 9 home games in March. Need to protect that parquet floor.
What’s infuriating though is that Orlando has only 1 nationally televised game on ESPN when they host the Heat on March 3rd. That’s it. There’s also 3 other NBA TV games scheduled for now. The 4 total ‘national television’ contests are the fewest in the entire NBA! Not cool. Going to have to prove a lot of America wrong.
January looks to be a very challenging month. 11 of their 16 games to start of the 2017 calendar year will be on the road, including a season-long 6-game West road trip. That’s not mentioning the Golden State Warriors come to O-Town on Sunday January 22nd. On January 29th, Bismack Biyombo returns to Toronto for the first time.
Other notable matchups include: Magic in Oklahoma City on November 13th where Serge Ibaka should get a great ovation from Thunder fans. One night later on Nov. 14th, the Magic head to Indianapolis as Vogel faces his old employer the Pacers. Orlando visits Dwight Howard and the Hawks in Atlanta on Tuesday December 13th. Orlando plays in Indiana on New Year’s Day. Orlando plays Monday January 16th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – in Denver.
The last game before the All-Star Break is Wednesday February 15th when they host the San Antonio Spurs. First game after All-Star Weekend is a Thursday February 23rd home contest against Portland. The schedule in March and April doesn’t look too bad. Victor Oladipo doesn’t visit Orlando until Wednesday March 29th (NBA TV).
The final Magic regular season game of ’16-’17 is Wednesday April 12th when they host the Pistons at Amway Center.
See the full (including preseason) schedule below: