Moment of the Decade: Christmas Gift of Bron and T-Mac
Bethlehem Shoals of The Baseline writes an excellent article, in which he looks back at Christmas Day in 2003 when former Orlando Magic player Tracy McGrady and LeBron James went toe-to-toe in a game that marked the end and beginning of two eras.
In December of 2003, though, T-Mac was still T-Mac, as potent and lithe a scorer as I've ever seen. He was so relentless and creative with the ball, so varied in his attack, that the world slept on his passing, rebounding and all-around floor game. Put simply, McGrady was a monster, LeBron was the Baby Beast tromping toward the shores of Tokyo. The two met on that fateful day. At the time, it seemed like the league was heading for its greenest pastures in years. The two stars spurred each other on, with McGrady's positively unreal 41 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists—plus five threes—setting the standard. Orlando took the game in OT, 113-110. But James also made a major leap forward, hitting four threes as part of his 36 points. Okay, so he also had 8 turnovers, and his six boards and two assists weren't exactly stat-stuffing. But you had to be there. LeBron went toe-to-toe with all that McGrady was and more than held his own. [...]
That Christmas Day, T-Mac and Bron were two ships passing in the night. I didn't realize it then, but T-Mac would soon be greatly diminished, while LeBron would ascend to heights that make us all nauseous. For a few hours, though, they crossed paths: McGrady at his finest vintage, LeBron for the first time displaying the "I can do anything" game that's made him the cosmic force he is today. It was just a few hours. But oh, how it has haunted me, haunted me ever since.
Carter knows that the Magic traded for him with one thing in mind: Winning a championship. And playing on a team where there are so many weapons and one that has a legitimate chance to contend for a title seems to have re-energized him.
``The goal to win it all is greater now than it ever has been for me,’’ said Carter, who is a month shy of his 33rd birthday. ``I know what I’m playing for now and there’s no confusion. Earlier, I’d talk about (winning a championship), but I just had to hope that the team was good enough. But this situation now with the Magic, we all know that (winning a title) is a very possible reality. None of the outside stuff doesn’t bother me or distract me.’’
The brutal early-season L
Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop wonders how much a team can take away from a single regular season loss early in the year, like Orlando.
No, because pre-New Years basketball is about discovery. If I'm Stan Van Gundy (and can you imagine being Stan Van Gundy for a day? If that were a silent auction item, I'd be hovering over that sign-in sheet until last call, boxing out all comers, money no object), I want to understand and diagnose why Boston's big men give Dwight Howard the yips. Better to acquire that information now rather than later. I get four months to employ my coaching prowess to make an adjustment to the offensive scheme. How do we get Dwight deeper position and buy a little more space and a little more time to go to work on the block?
What to eat before a game or practice?
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Mickael Pietrus — the other starter
UPDATE (from Ben): Tania Ganguli got Van Gundy's take on Mickael Pietrus, the only Magic starter never to appear in an All-Star game.
"I still think his size and athleticism gives him the best chance to go out against the best players in this league and make it hard for them defensively," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Plus he can really shoot the ball. I think he’s a huge key for us. His energy is up and down as a result he’s up and down. When he’s playing well I think he makes us significantly better."