Friday, February 27, 2009

Blind leading the blind

Tonight's Orlando/Detroit game is currently being aired on ESPN. In a nice little 30 second clip towards the end of the 1st quarter announcers Jon Barry and Kevin Calabro were classic.

Said Barry, "Tony Battie has been banged up this year. He has only played in 55 games." Let's see. First, Orlando has played 57 games so far this year. Does missing two out of 57 games count as banged up? Next, the two games that Tony missed were both DNP-CD. He has not missed a single game this year due to injury.

Just seconds before this they congratulated Hedo Turkoglu on his first child being born this morning. Only problem is... She was born yesterday.

Keep it up ESPN.

"Let's keep in touch..."

This evening the Orlando Magic welcome the Detroit Pistons to town in what is a rather important game for both squads. Detroit is trying to get back to their old winning ways while Orlando is trying to get past a team that has been giving them troubles for years.

A focal point of this game will be Rasheed Wallace, everyone's favorite crybaby. After receiving his league leading 15th and 16th technical fouls against Denver on Wednesday night he should have been suspended for tonight's game. However, the NBA withdrew two techs from a previous game this year, thus lowering his season total to 14 and allowing Sheed to suit up tonight.

Mr. Wallace is a poor sport. He whines, moans and complains at every opportunity. He comes off as what is what is wrong with sports and society today: Me first all the way.

Now backup to yesterdays Orlando Sentinel.

Last week when Orlando traded for PG Rafer Alston the Magic parted ways with Brian Cook, Mike Wilks, and Adonal Foyle. That said, Mr. Foyle purchased some ad space and sent this message to the community.

"Let's keep in touch..."

How pleasant and relieving. Mr. Foyle was here less than two seasons and never made much of an impact on the court. Buried on the bench behind Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat, and Tony Battie, we never heard him complain. We never saw him act unprofessionally. Towels were never thrown on the court and at Stan Van Gundy. Most of this season Adonal was dressed in a suit with no chance of playing. However, he was always up congratulating and willing on his teammates. He had a clipboard in his hand, either making game notes or breaking down Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract.

But that was just his basketball side. A few weeks ago we discussed Adonal's presidential abilities. To take from that:

Adonal grew up in the tiny island of Canouan, where he was raised by his grandmother and pet donkey and relied on a kerosene lamp to light up his room while doing homework.

At the age of 15, he was adopted by two college professors and moved to New York. He lived the middle-class American lifestyle throughout college, and after being selected 8th overall by the Warriors in the 97 draft, he entered the life of an NBA player, basically guaranteeing him financial security and a sudden opinion on the Capital Gains Tax.

So there you have it, rags to riches. Nice story. But that is isn't even half of it. Just take a visit to He is at the helm of Democracy Matters (Seriously, look at this) and the Kerosene Lamp Foundation (Seriously, look at this one too), two organizations that tackle both political issues and poverty.

No one twisted his arm on this one. He's not doing this to further his career. It's not a publicity stunt. Heck, I'm sure most people don't even know about any of this. As a reader pointed out on our last Adonal post:

You left out how genuinely nice he is. I went to high school with Adonal. He's not just smart, he's educated - and he worked hard to be. Between the end of school and the start of practice he would get extra help from his teachers in all subjects so the he could be a straight A student.

Just a few days before the trade Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote a piece about Adonal. Bianchi received a letter from a coach who took a group of kids to see the Magic play in Denver. The letter said:

There were about 20 people (mostly kids) on the bench just as the Magic players took the court. Within the first few minutes, many of the Magic players took the time to wave, say hello and throw a smile toward our group. One player in particular went out of his way to interact with us. As it turns out, this player was Mr. Adonal Foyle.

Mr. Foyle came over and sat on the floor in the middle of our group. He faced us (not the court) and made small talk as he stretched. The kids (ages 4 to 12) were quite scared of Mr. Foyle at first (he is a VERY large man). This is when Mr. Foyle literally laid down on the floor and asked the children if he could be included and play with them. Now that this enormous man was lower than the kids, they warmed up to him quite quickly. Mr. Foyle smiled and spoke to the kids with a very sincere and gentle voice and before we knew it, he was holding the kids on his lap for photos. Mr. Foyle shook hands, high-fived and signed autographs for about 10minutes.

As he started taking practice shots, Mr. Foyle passed the ball back and forth with the kids and then invited them to come on the court and run some line drills with him. All I can think of are the stories that must have gone around at school on the Monday after the game. This is the stuff of dreams; these memories will be cherished by these kids for the rest of their lives!

Mike approached Adonal and asked why he treated the fans the way he did. The answer? "Why not?"

This is the anti-Sheed. I really hope Orlando keeps in touch.

Thanks to TPASTBM contributor El Fantasma de Carlos Arroyo for catching the Adonal ad.

Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic Game Preview

It's time for your Orlando Magic to battle their bugaboo, a desperate sliding Detroit Pistons team. Let's get it started.

  • As we know by now Rasheed Wallace will play tonight but Terry Foster of the Detroit News is calling for the Pistons to cut him.

  • Chris McCosky of the same Detroit News tell us that maybe it's time to bench Allen Iverson and start Richard Hamilton considering their 4-12 record with Rip on the bench.

  • Kudos are due to our very own Dwight Howard who received the NBA's Community Assist Award for the month of January.

  • If you have always hated the space bar yet love Adonal Foyle we learn from the National Post's Outlandish section that he pulled an ad in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel to thank the fans.

  • Senior V.P. of the Magic Pat Williams swung by the Herd yesterday to discuss his new book and the possibilities of Dwight Howard becoming an all-time great.

  • tells us that Rafer Alston has fit in just fine with his new teammates and that he sometimes misses his AND1 roots.

Detroit has won 7 out of 9 regular season games against Orlando and 8 of their last 9 playoff games but are on an eight game losing streak. Something has to give!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


The Orlando Sentinel is reporting Hedo and his wife, Banu, welcomed their first child today. According to the report, Ela weighed in at six pounds, one ounce and was 19 inches long. Congratulations Turks!

Top 4 players we're glad aren't wearing a Magic uniform anymore

20 years. Yeah, that’s right, the Magic have been in the NBA almost long enough to buy a Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade. Over the years all sorts of characters have put on the Blue and White. There were the greats like Nick Anderson, Darrell Armstrong, and Steven Hunter. There were the quality players like Dennis Scott, Tony Battie, and Scott Skiles who contributed for a number of years. But there was also a lot of wasted space. There were some locker room cancers, some laziness, and well, some very interesting characters. So who are we glad is no longer around to fill newspaper headlines or arrest warrants, or paternity suits? Who would we be most cool with had they never worn a Magic jersey? Well, here it is, the top 4 players we're glad aren't wearing a Magic uniform anymore:

Brian Cook

How did they get here: Acquired via trade for Trevor Ariza, he came here along with current Hawks G Maurice Evans from the Lakers. Take a wild guess at which player fans were more happy to be receiving.

What they did wrong: **** near everything. Brian seemed to be a great teammate at first. Then at the start of the 08-09 season, he started to complain about his role. However, that was the problem. He had no role. Brought in to space the floor more for Dwight and to help rebound, Cook never really did that. When given playing time, he would come in and jack up shots the minute the ball touched his hands. This sort of erratic play drove Stan Van Gundy insane. Coach didn't eat or sleep for about 2 weeks, and would pull out his hair after every 3pt shot Brian took [see a picture of Stan during hard times on the right]. Cook, for his size and girth, couldn't rebound to save his life. Originally brought in to supplement the loss of Tony Battie to season ending surgery, many still wonder what GM Otis Smith was thinking when trading for the soft PF. All seemed lost and lopsided with the trade, that is until Cook made his most meaningful contribution to the team. Passing his psychical on the trade that the Magic made to acquire Rafer Alston from the Rockets. F plus.

Where are they now: Brian was traded to the Rockets in exchange for Rafer Alston. With a team full of promising forwards, he looks to be in the same situation he was in with the Magic. Spotty minutes when the team is desperate for 3pt shooting.

Doug Christie

How did they get here: Traded from Sacramento.

What they did wrong: Being an overemotional sulker in the trade that killed 2 careers (Steve-O). Doug was just never interested in playing for Orlando in the 1st place and looked disinterested the day he got here. His wife would reveal that the Kings made him a good-bye video that he would watch over and over until she would finally convince him to go to sleep. Christie's D was already slipping as it was so the desired results of the trade to add perimeter D failed miserably. F minus minus.

Where are they now: Giving his wife a foot massage.

Darko Milicic

How did they get here: Orlando acquired Mr. Milicic from the Detroit Pistons along with fan favorite Carlos Arroyo in return for another Magic legend Kelvin Cato and a first round pick.

What they did wrong: For starters, Darko had the unfortunate burden of being the second pick in the 2003 NBA draft. He was chosen ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, David West, Reece Gaines AND Brian Cook. You can’t blame the man for this, but he has never been able to live up to the hype. The guy showed some signs of promise, at times playing some lock down defense and hitting some long J’s. Unfortunately, the good times were more than often erased by multiple Hedo like moments which consisted of a combination of laziness and stupidity. Overall it can be chalked up to what seems like a lack of motivation, which for someone with his talent is unacceptable. As his career evolved we began to get a glance into the reasons why Darko wasn’t ever going to make an All-Star game. There were the pictures like the one posted. We’re no doctors, but it’s probably safe to say the nights of drinking and smoking are not good for someone who gets paid to be a world class athlete. Plus, there was the unforgettable anti referee/sister of referee/mother of referee rant following a game (Warning: Language very, very, very NSFW). That counts double. D minus.

Where are they now: Otis let Darko head over to Memphis for more money. At the time many chastised the GM for letting such a promising player walk. Darko has proved Otis right by continuing to tread the NBA waters… Not quite bad enough to get the ax while not producing the numbers he should.

Anthony Avent [not pictured, trust me, we tried]

How did they get here: Traded from Milwaukee

What they did wrong: Well, Anthony Avent had the worst hands we've ever seen on a basketball player ever. If you replaced your hands with two cinder blocks covered in rubber and grease, you could catch passes better than Avent could. Avent couldn't shoot, pass, defend or rebound, and at no point in his year and a half with Orlando did Avent look interested in doing anything productive. Combine that with his penchant for telling bizarre stories to the press to cover up his ridiculous domestic problems, and you're left with a player who had a clearly negative impact on a team that made the finals. F minus.

Where are they now: Most likely drunk and retired, which is sad, since he made more money being useless for 6 years in the NBA than we'll likely ever even see in our lifetimes. If anyone needs us, we'll be self-immolating.


Here are two interesting tidbits from the Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN:

• Dwight Howard dominated the Knicks with 24 points and 21 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 114-109 win in New York. It was the sixth game this season in which Howard reached 20 in both points and rebounds, matching the total for the rest of the league combined. David Lee, Amare Stoudemire, Troy Murphy, Andrew Bogut, Brad Miller and Al Jefferson have each done that once.

• Rashard Lewis went 1-for-6 from beyond the arc but his 24-foot jump shot with fewer than three minutes remaining in the final period extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-point field goal to 50. Only four other players have had a streak of at least 50 straight games with a 3-point field goal within one season: Dennis Scott (74 games in 1995-96), Reggie Miller (68, 1996-97), Dana Barros (58, 1994-95) and Tracy McGrady (50, also for Orlando, 2002-03).

So for the 5 players who have hit 3's in 50 straight games during a single season, 3 (Tracy, 3D, and Rashard) have done so while playing for the Magic.

Happy Thursday Magic Fans, as today is the 58th anniversary of the ratification of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nate Robinson? Yeah, I dig that guy!

Rarely does there come a time where I genuinely like opposing teams players. Sure, I love to watch Kobe take over a game, or see Brandon Roy fill up the stat sheet in his young career. However, I don't feel any sort of attachment to those guys while I watch them, the way I do with the Magic players that I've followed for so long. I know Dwight is a goofball on and off the court. I enjoy seeing Turk make a fool out of himself with the Turkey Dance. And I admire Adonal Foyle for his commitment to making this world a better place.

Tonight, the Magic travel to the big apple to take on the New York Knicks. Tonight's game will be anything but a defensive slugfest, as both teams love to shoot the 3, and the Knicks are playing the run & gun style of yesteryears Suns. While I always look forward to watching my Magic play, I have another reason to look forward to tonights game. That reason: Nate Robinson.

Nate is much like our own Dwight Howard. Both are free spirited, and like to have fun while playing the game. Yet, they both have a strong desire to perform at a top notch level. This year has been one of Nates best years statiscally, as he has been given more minutes, and more offensive freedom. But it's his personality that sets him apart from his teammates.

Like Dwight, Nate is beloved by fans and doesn't hesitate to interact with them if given the chance. Just the other night against the Pacers, Nate interacted with a fan that he was actually a fan of, Mr. Will Ferrell. The two shared shake & bake fist bumps together after Nate would score, and Nate even went as far as to give him an autographed jersey after the game. Anybody who fists bumps with Ron Burgandy is OK in my book. But it doesn't stop there. Nate has made it known he is an avid gamer, playing CoD with several fans and gamers alike on X-Box live. Sure, the gamers he played with assumed it wasn't him, but Nate made sure they knew it was. After shooting a free throw, Nate saluted the guys he plays with, proving to them it was him all along.

In a time where players are too serious for their own good, or would rather fight with opposing players then share a laugh, it's refreshing to see a guy who doesn't take himself too seriously and isn't afraid to be himself. It doesn't hurt that he is a hell of a dunker too.

Some other notes for tonights game:

Bear wrestling? 2009 NBA Free Agents likely to face a bear market this summer.

This economy stinks…. There really is no other way to put it, virtually all industries have been hit hard by it along with families. Professional sports has been relatively safe from prior recessions because in hard times people still want their sports teams, even more so then as a distraction from the hard reality of a bad economy. But this has been no ordinary recession and most economists are openly using the “D” word now to describe it. Professional sports is rapidly beginning to feel the impact as attendance goes down along with spending on merchandise and concessions. The Arena Football League simply called off its season rather than fight through the tough times.

The NBA will survive unlike the Arena League, but owners are getting a rude awakening after seeing the stock market nearly cut in half the corporate values that allowed them to buy an NBA team in the first place. In fact most NBA teams spent the weeks before the trade deadline looking for deals to cut payrolls instead of shopping for players to improve their teams. The Magic were one of the few exceptions in trading for Rafer Alston. This off season may see an even worse blood letting on team payrolls when ticket renewals plummet and for the first time since it was instituted, the salary cap and corresponding luxury tax are likely to be lowered. Virtually every team counted on the cap continuing to increase and word from league bean counters that this number will likely go down was a rude awaking to many team owners during All-Star weekend.

A word of advice to NBA players: don’t be a free agent this summer if you can avoid it. You may find that very few teams are spending money and the ones who have budget room will be likely saving it for 2010 when Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade hit the market. Looking overseas may not help you much either as this is a global meltdown to the point that actual countries are going bankrupt. So how does all of this depressing news affect our favorite team here at TPASTBM?

The Magic will have two key contributors that are eligible for free agency this summer. Young center Marcin Gortat aka “The Warlock” or “Polish Hammer” whose rookie deal is expiring and will become a restricted free agent. The other is a member of what Otis calls his “core” in Hedo Turkoglu who can choose to opt out of the last year of his deal and test the free agent waters. Hedo has been very vocal to local media about his intentions to opt out and sign what will likely be the last major contract of his career. Most experts agree that it will take 5 years at $50 million to appease his wishes and keep him in Orlando.

However, the key question in this rapidly deteriorating economic environment is: "can the Magic afford to hand out another big contract??? "

Let’s break down the team payroll before we tackle this question. The Magic currently have five players locked up in contracts for the next four to five years (2009-2010 salaries in parentheses). Dwight Howard ($15.1), Rashard Lewis ($18.9), Jameer Nelson ($6.1), Mickael Pietrus ($5.75), Courtney Lee ($1.2) for a total of $47.0

They have committed 61% of the total payroll for this year to these five players and that percentage will only increase as the contracts escalate and what had been expected to be a growing NBA cap number is reduced. As you can see these five will take roughly $47 million of next year's cap space.

The team also has two more players in the final guaranteed years of their contracts.
Tony Battie at $6.3 and JJ Redick at $2.8

This brings us to seven players and $57 million in guaranteed contracts. If the cap is only reduced by $1 million (a moderate estimate but it could be more), this will set the luxury tax at around $70 million. The luxury tax is a number that Otis Smith and ownership have already sworn to be their payroll limit leaving roughly $13 million to fill out the roster. Let me say that again, only $13 Million to fill out six or seven roster spots!

Now let’s look at the three players with options on their contracts.
Hedo Turkoglu at $7.4 million (player option) Rafer Alston at $5.2 million (only $2.5 is guaranteed if he is waived), and Anthony Johnson at $2.1 million (non-guaranteed).

I fully expect Anthony Johnson and his non-guaranteed contract to be released. The team can bring him back at the vets minimum or bring in another free agent point guard (Tyronn Lue maybe). Keeping Rafer Alston would be wise considering Jameer Nelson generally misses games every year, although he has had no major injuries before like his current one. If the Magic keep Rafer however, they will be left with close to $8 million under the cap with only 8 players and two free agents still to re-sign in Hedo and Marcin plus add another 2 or 3 players at the vets minimum for depth.

One option would be finding another team under the cap or holding a trade exception and who is willing to take on Tony Battie, Mickael Pietrus or Rafer Alston (a difficult task made harder by the economy). Re-signing Hedo Turkoglu (at the number he wants) AND staying under the luxury tax is going to be a near impossible task for Otis Smith. Fans of the Magic and other NBA teams (most are going to be facing similar difficult decisions), need to prepare themselves to lose key players this summer and possibly next without compensation simply because their team can not afford to keep them.

If Hedo really does want to stay in Orlando he may have a better chance by NOT opting out and waiting until 2010 when the Magic have several large contracts expiring (Battie and Alston) that will allow them more space to work the deal he deserves. If he chooses to opt out he may want to remember that safe word “Spumoni” because he and the other 2009 free agents are likely to be wrestling with the worst bear market in NBA free agent history.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pun Watch

While watching "NBA Fastbreak" on ESPN, I noticed the producers couldn't resist using a bad pun while showing an email from a so called "disgruntled" Magic fan. Yeah guys, he's disgruntled because the puns are starting to bore him. See what I did there?

Remember this?

Do you all remember this little image that appeared what seems to feel like 10 years ago on the official Magic web page? I sure didn't, until I was going over my files on my computer. I was just looking around at all those old files and ran across this one. "Oh yeaaaaaaaah, I remember we signed this guy for like a minute!" I proclaimed.

I never agreed with this signing, I mean we've all seen what most college coaches accomplish in the NBA. At least lately. Not really being a college ball fan, I barely saw a few games from this guy, and sure, they won two titles in a row, best team and thus, best coach in college, maybe. They play right here in Florida, so it apparently made sense to the team.

I guess. I never bought that Otis Smith wanted to sign this guy. I always thought it was more a PR move, to get more fans in the building and some excitement to Orlando. Even if it meant not being competitive for a few years. Man was I glad he changed his mind...and how lucky the team was that Stan Van Gundy really wanted to stay in Florida and had not signed that contract with Sacramento.

Can you imagine this team being as successful without Stan?

Me either. Stan has proven yet again, that he is one of the best coaches in this league. He might not have the experience of Pat Riley(blah), Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, Don Nelson, and others, but I consider him just as good a coach. I truly believe Stan can be a hall of fame coach by the end of his career, and that what we are seeing is just the start. I can already see him in Orlando for many many many years. There's already talk of an extension. I hope we sign him for 100 years.

The guy can bring the best out of his players. Orlando at one point had lost 3 starters. Still won. We lost Pietrus for weeks. Still won. Lost our all-star point guard for the season. Still won....I mean they did struggle badly, but playing .500 ball while losing a star is not that bad...He is making Courtney Lee play at a high level. Have you seen Lee on the court on defense? he must deflect 20 passes a night. He has even made JJ Redick a decent backup SG. Who would have thought?

Now Otis pulls a brilliant trade, where the team lost...uhmmmm...nothing, and received a starting PG that is meshing extremely well with the team. I for one didn't think this was possible this year. I didn't think we would get a starting PG. Otis did.

But it is Stan who will bring the best out of Rafer Alston, yet again, and keep us playing on a high level and as title contenders.

Doesn't this make you all tingly inside? The feeling we had as Orlando Tragic (typo but I'm keeping it) fans for many many many years is gone. I for one feel we can win every night. Unlike past seasons where the feeling was pretty damn scary.

So here's to you Stan Van Gundy. You might be too short and fat to play basketball. You might look like porn star Ron Jeremy. You might wear turtle necks and suit jackets that are way to short for you. You might not believe in styling your hair. You might have a beautiful pornstache, but goddammit are you a great basketball mind!!!

Thank You Coach.

Keep this train going.

P.S........Remember this......

Tonight: Magic @ Bulls

8:00 PM, Fox Sports Net Florida:

Riding a 2-0 record since the Rafer Alston trade last week, the Orlando Magic will try to keep the good vibes flowing tonight against the new-look Bulls in Chicago. This is the third meeting between the teams this year, with Orlando winning the previous two. On November 3 Orlando won at home, 96-93. Dwight led Orlando with 22 points and 15 boards while now former Bull Drew Gooden put in 21. On New Years Eve Orlando traveled up to Chicago and whipped up on the Bulls 113-94. The Magic had 7 players in double figures, led by Rashard Lewis' 21. Former Gator Joakim Noah had 19 for the Bulls, upping on the 17 he scored against Orlando in the November 3rd matchup.

Chicago made some changes last week and will come out with a drastically different starting lineup tonight. Against the Pacers on Sunday the Bulls started Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Ben Gordon, and Derrick Rose. New Bull's Brad Miller came off the bench, as did John Salmons and Tim Thomas.
Also, Hedo and his wife are due to have their first baby on Thursday. Said Hedo:

"I have my first child coming and we're very excited about it and on the other hand I still have to do my job... I just have to try to get better every day and do stuff to make that happen every day. And then you try not to worry about anything else while realizing I need to handle my business on the court."

That's right Hedo, do stuff to make that happen every day.

Thanks to NikeTalk for the image of Nick about to knock it free from Jordan.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Only Thing To Fear Is Fearlessness

Last week, while watching his 45 point, 19 rebound, 8 block ritual beating of the Charlotte Bobcats, I was struck by an odd feeling: I felt truly sorry for Dwight Howard.

It wasn't the first time I felt that twang of sympathy for the NBA's best center. The first time was during last year's playoffs, when Howard was playing a Raptor's team that had no answer for him.

It sounds like a strange feeling, admittedly. Why would you feel sorry for a man who signed an 80 million dollar contract extension with his team, and has enough endorsement money to replace Iowa with a several hundred mile wide bowl of pudding(which might be an improvement over Iowa as it is now, but that's not important right now). But the reason I felt sorry for Dwight, and the reason I feel sorry for him now is summed up in the one word I've used and heard use in every conversation about Dwight Howard that I can ever remember being a part of: the word "potential".

If you have never seen Dwight Howard up close, you can't really appreciate it. You just can't truly understand how huge this man is until you've seen it up close. He's 6'11" and appears to be carved out of stone, like some Renaissance statue sculpted to depict the perfect center. Standing next to the man, I felt like a little boy, and I say that as someone who's 6'2" in shoes and weighs 175. I'm not exactly a small person, but Dwight Howard made me feel like I was fun-size. That'd be well enough on it's own, but then you watch him play, and you realize that not only is he a giant He-man made entirely out of muscle, but he also runs faster and jumps higher than you ever will.

So when Dwight Howard walks onto a court to play basketball, it's almost impossible to judge him based off the merits of what he does; instead, you are almost forced, subconsciously, to judge him based off what you believe he could do. That's where the whole potential factor creeps into your consciousness. How good would Dwight be if he could hit his free throws? How good would be if he had a few more reliable, go to post moves? How good would he be if he had a reliable face up jumpshot? How good would he be if he brought the intensity on defense every night? How good would he be if he further cut his turnovers down? If he further cut down his fouls?

None of those questions are invalid; rather, they are the kinds of hypotheticals that have come to blur, more and more, the apparency of what Dwight is doing right now. Dwight's numbers this year are great, and most people have no trouble whatsoever admitting that they're great. He's a legitimate top 3-5 MVP candidate, he should be the runaway favorite for DPOY, he's almost assuredly going to lead the league in blocks and rebounds, he's turned into a threat to go off for 20/15/3 every night while playing great defense(which is actually a kind of spectacular feat), all while being a great teammate and a growing leader for his team. In short, he's the consensus best center in the NBA. And he's 23, and constantly getting better.

So when left with a 23 year old who's clearly the best player in the league at his position but is still somewhat raw, I guess the common thinking is to compare him to previous greats at his position. That's fine, and if Dwight truly wants to be the greatest ever as he's said, then that's ultimately what the discussion will evolve into, but is it really fair to compare a 23 year old's potential to prime Shaq? Is it really fair to compare Dwight's rebounding potential to Moses Malone's? To compare his potential post game to Hakeem's? Doesn't saying repeatedly what Dwight isn't just obscure the things Dwight already is?

Perhaps the most common statement about Dwight that you'll hear repeated by people who are, apparently, retarded is: "All he does is dunk". Occasionally, you'll also be blessed with: "He hasn't really improved on offense since coming into the league". Those statements would sound stupid on a message board coming from someone named "Slmdnkchmprulz", but the fact is that I've heard both of those statements at least 5 times a piece this season on league pass by opposing team's announcers, which is, to be perfectly honest, horrifying.

Dwight Howard's post game has clearly developed a great deal, even in just the last 12 months. He's added a running hook shot across the lane with either hand, and a baseline spin move that's unguardable when he's hitting the shot. Hell, even his FT% seems like it's slowly starting to improve, with Dwight at around 64% in 2009. That's not great in the grand scheme of things, but a 5% improvement is still a 5% improvement. And that's not even touching on lesser known things, like the fact that, according to, if Dwight had played enough games to qualify(he'll hit that mark late this season), Dwight's career rebounding percentage of 20.4% would rank 3rd all-time, behind just Dennis Rodman and Swen Nater, or the fact that he's gone from being a decent defender to being arguably the most significant defensive presence in the entire league.

I, for one, can't wait to see what he's like when he finally reaches his potential.

Events Center Update

The Orlando Events Center is coming along in downtown Orlando. Below is the latest pic from the webcam and you can learn a lot more here.

Click to enlarge

Also, the Orlando Sentinel ran a story about the progress of the three venues on the agenda for the city. Of the three venues (the new arena for the Magic, the performing arts center, and the renovation of the Citrus Bowl), the Sentinel only declared the arena as a guarantee... And that's only because it's currently being built. Both the performing arts center and Citrus Bowl are very much in question of ever being built now due to, if you haven't heard, a downturn in the economy.

Yahoo! Sports - NBA - Orlando Magic News

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Credit "Sebi" from the Orlando Magic Message board for the title graphic.

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