File photo by Chuck Burton, the Associated Press
Best birthday wishes to Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, who turns 48 today. In his first year with Orlando, The Man guided the Magic to their third-highest win total in franchise history, all without wearing a tie. I've yet to meet a single Magic fan who doesn't like him. We're glad to have Stan aboard and we hope he took at least today off from preparing for this season to relax.
And belated birthday wishes to one Patrick Joseph Garrity, who turned 32 on Saturday. Garrity's career is probably over (although the team has not ruled-out re-signing him), but he spent the last nine seasons with the Magic, and, as such, will forever be identified with them. Thanks, Pat.
Last week, I linked to a story that reported Jameer Nelson was hosting his Magic teammates in Philadelphia for a week of team-building exercises. That story has picked up some steam, and some people who aren't even huge fans of Nelson's game are praising him. From Empty the Bench:
NBA players are under more of a microscope than any athletes in any other major professional sport, and when they screw up it's amplified ten times more than when, say, a football player beats and batters his girlfriend during the offseason. And even though this isn't going to change my views of Nelson's on-court game -- it'll take stats and wins for that to happen -- it's a great story and one that deserves some attention.
Nelson's show of leadership like this is rare in any pro sport. Whether or not it actually amounts to anything remains to be seen, but either way it's the thought that counts.
And from FanHouse:
Every NBA team has a captain, but I guarantee no one takes the role more seriously than Jameer Nelson.
I'll be the first to admit, I've used this space in the past to give Nelson grief over the size of his contract, but the guy exudes leadership.
I'm an unabashed Jameer lover, so I'm happy to see that a) he's taking the initiative -- again -- to help his team jell; and b) that he's getting recognition from non-Magic fans for doing so. Let's hope he continues to earn praise this season with his work on the floor.
- Hardwood Paroxysm recently hosted a roundtable discussion regarding the role of small-market teams in the NBA. I partook, as did bloggers representing Charlotte, Cleveland, Memphis, Milwaukee, Sacramento, and San Antonio.
- Nothing But Net passes along word that Dwight Howard's official basketball camp will take place this Saturday and Sunday at RDV Sportsplex. Visit DwightHowardCamp.com for more information.
- Indy Cornrows, SB Nation's Pacers blog, says the NBA has denied Indiana's request to use a red, white, and blue ABA basketball for a preseason game. The reason I mention that news here is because I recall the Magic and the Spurs playing a regular-season game with a red, white, and blue ball just a few seasons ago. Does anyone else remember that game?
Also note some changes around the network. The left sidebar of every SB Nation site includes a complete SB Nation blogroll, separated by league, which expands and collapses with a click. Below that, you'll find a subscription center which houses the feeds for the main page, FanPosts, and FanShots. Thanks to the SBN tech wizards for their hard work.