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Monday, September 04, 2006

Nelson pulls Magic together

-We've already mentioned this a little bit as it was mentioned on a blog on the Magic site. Today it was published in the Sentinel by Tim Povtak, and there are a few more details and quotes. It was all good news, and creates further reason to be excited for the upcoming season. It's hard not to appreciate Jameer and this Magic team. Hopefully the bonding and chemistry will translate into a lot of wins next year. One things for sure, no Magic team has been as prepared going into a season as this one.

Jameer Nelson didn't wait for training camp next month to start asserting himself as the leader of the Orlando Magic.

Nelson may have played only two NBA seasons and still could be facing a battle for the starting point-guard role, but that didn't stop him from gathering his teammates this summer for a weeklong training/bonding session in Philadelphia, near his hometown of Chester, Pa.

"I feel like I'm the leader of this team, and I should act like it,'' Nelson said last week from Pennsylvania. "My whole purpose was to make sure we continue building on the way we finished last season. I always thought in college, you became a better team if the guys really understand and enjoy each other, develop a chemistry. We can do that with the Magic.''

Although three of the Magic's key players -- Dwight Howard, Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo -- were in Japan at the FIBA World Championship, Nelson still managed to have eight teammates in Philadelphia for the week.

He set up their schedules and paid for everything. They played basketball, lifted weights, ran on the track, even had coaches from the five Philadelphia-area colleges help with training sessions. It was working with a dual purpose.

Together, they all went to restaurants, bowling, to a movie, even to play paintball. Nelson made sure the Magic guys stuck together.

"This wasn't a boot camp. We worked hard, but we had fun, too. It went really well. It's going to help when things get tough at times,'' Nelson said. "I'm not going to try and predict the future of this team, but I know now we're headed in the right direction.''

Nelson started slowly last season, missing 20 games in the middle with a sprained foot, but he finished strong, just like the Magic when they won 16 of their last 22 games.

As a starter, he averaged 16 points and 5.8 assists.

It was no coincidence that he didn't emerge as a leader until Steve Francis was traded in February.

"We had absolutely nothing to do with putting it [the week in Philadelphia] together, although I was invited to come watch one day,'' Magic General Manager Otis Smith said. "That's what made it so unusual. This kind of thing doesn't normally happen in the league. It was all driven and put together by Jameer. He is so focused right now, it's scary.''

The 5-foot-10 Nelson has bulked up to 200 pounds, and he'll arrive in camp in the best condition of his life. He will open training camp with the first unit, but Arroyo -- who played exceptionally well with the Puerto Rican national team at the World Championship -- will try to unseat him.

Together, they should provide the Magic with an outstanding 1-2 punch at point guard.

"There were things we saw in Jameer at Saint Joe's [where he played four years] -- leadership things -- that really weren't able to flourish in Orlando until recently,'' Smith said. "And I love what I'm seeing.''

6 Comments:

  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Scary thought...

    The 5-foot-10 Nelson has bulked up to 200 pounds, and he'll arrive in camp in the best condition of his life.

    5 10, 200 pounds; he's gotta be a little rock! I'm confident that anything he lacks in a couple inches, he'll make up one way or another!

    Thank goodness the season is sneaking up on us quickly!

    Another positive; this is the 1st season we don't have to rely on the state of Grant Hill coming in. If he's there, it's icing on the cake, if not, we still have the present-future Magic to look forward to.

     
  • At 4:53 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Nice to see that all 8 available teammates were able to make time and attend this training/bonding session... yes, that is unusual to hear of something like that being done in the off-season by a team, and that shows how much chemistry is being developed here. Good for Jameer for organizing the whole thing.

    Now that he's 200 pounds, hopefully he'll still be as quick as he was before... I'm confident he'll be.

    It's really a nice feeling knowing that the Magic have 2 outstanding point guards and won't lose a beat no matter which one is on the floor.

     
  • At 5:57 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    How difficult would it have been for Potvak to name the eight guys? Did it include Hill, Turkoglu or Redick?

    Was Brian Hill invited?

    Sheesh, those Sentinel guys are too lazy.

     
  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    It is good to see Jameer assume the leadership position that he fits in. Between him and Dwight, he definitely has the maturity and experience for that role.

    As far as the details, I was thinking on the same lines that WeR is; why couldn't Povtak provide more details? Was that deliberate? In my view, if Grant is healthy enough to start, it's hard to think of anybody else leading the team. However, I give Jameer the credit for having the confidence and the courage to claim the leadership role. You might disagree with me, but I just came back from Japan where seniority earns high regards, and is not taken away easily. That's why between Dwight and Jameer, although Jameer does not have the same stature of Dwight as a player, I give Jameer the right to claim the leadership. I guess the OWNERSHIP and the LEADERSHIP of the team are two different concepts; this is Dwight's team but Jameer's to lead, so to speak.

     
  • At 8:30 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    It is quite annoying that they can't simply state who showed up and who didn't. With the kind of turn out that was there, I hope whoever wasn't present had a reasonable excuse.

    It's not the first time something like this has happened. The first names that come to mind are David Robinson and Avery Johnson. That often happens with big men though. They need to be feed the ball. They can still make an impact with what they do, but they're not the "General" on the floor so to speak, even though they are usually the backbone on the floor.

    I think Grant knows this is not his team. He's stated many times, that he would love to stay around and ride the coat tail of the younger guys. I think he'll welcome the role as what he is, the veteran role model. Hill has had 6 years to do something here. I think the Magic organization has moved on from the thought of Hill and that is why he isn't often mentioned. Not to say that he will not be here, but as of now, they are not relying on him, which is pretty much what he has earned of the past 6 seasons.

    Still, I'd love to see a healthy Grant Hill. It's hard not to cheer for a guy like Hill. He's represents everything good about the NBA.

     
  • At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love to see Jameer take the bull by the horn and get this season off to a good start, especially after the way last season started with the the whole Fran Vasquez incident. Hopefully the Magic will continue to grow from last season's impressive finish. Too bad the core of the time, Darko, Howard, and Arroyo weren't available, but I really can't complain. Hopefully we will back in the playoffs this year, I have a good feeling we will be, although not a lock. The Eastern Conference has improved. Go Magic!

     

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