Orlando Magic backup center Adonal Foyle isn't like most of the 13th-men in this league. Actually, he's not like most men, period. Off the court, his charitable efforts earned him an induction to the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame last week. On the court, he still holds some notable franchise records, among them the Golden State Warriors' all-time lead in total blocked shots. And when I approached Adonal while he was speaking with Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily, they were engaged in an elevated discussion about the merits of socialized medicine.
He's fun to be around, and it given his rapport with the team's players and the Orlando community, it's no wonder that coach Stan Van Gundy later said that the decision for the Magic to re-sign Foyle was the easiest one he and GM Otis Smith had to make all summer. That decision was much easier than what Adonal was hard at work doing during the same time, namely completing his graduate thesis on the retirement experiences of NBA players; and working with the NBA Players' Union on avoiding a lockout before the Collaborative Bargaining Agreement between the league and the Union expires next summer.
After the jump, some of Adonal's media-day comments.
Q: If you could change one thing in the world, what would you change?
I think more than anything it's probably poverty. I think we're too, um, civilized a world to still allow people to go hungry. Definitely get rid of poverty.
Q: Have you noticed a development in [Dwight Howard's] game from, maybe, 4 years ago to 3 years ago to 2 years ago to now?
Yeah. Dwight obviously is a phenomenal talent, but I think last year probably did more for his game than anything else. Dwight has a good game, and he has improved it, but when you're capable of dunking the ball every single time, you don't think you have to use a lot of the other stuff that you've learned. But I think with the experience from the playoffs and the Finals, what that did is it showed him that you don't really use these skills not because you have to, but because you should. Because when you do need them, you have to be able to call on them. And I think that's, more than anything, what I think he will get from the experience of playing last year and not being able to do what he wanted to do and having 10 people sitting in his lap and forcing him to do something different. I think he will understand, when we push him, and when we tell him, "you're not getting a dunk, I'm not gonna let you dunk," it's not gonna be just trying to be mean. It's just, me, just making sure he can work on these other things.
Foyle also mentioned that he and Dwight battle pretty hard in practice every day, saying they have a "mutually beat-each-other-up" relationship. Over the course of my interaction with Adonal, it became clear that he believes in leading by example. In working with Dwight, that example is brute strength.
I like Adonal's approach.
When asked about Howard's developing jump shot--you know, the one that first surfaced two years ago during the preseason--Foyle had this to say:
Dwight has that new jump shot since... since... I got here. He developed it but he never shoots it because he can dunk any time he wants [....] he needs to have it, and I think he does have it in his repertoire, and I think you'll see it this year.
By request, I asked Adonal to name "the next step Dwight" has to take on offense, as Dwight's lack of an All-World post game limits him in some situations. Adonal's response:
Simply leadership. He has to continue to be a leader, but also understand that the dirty work of rebounding and blocking shots are just as important as the 360 slam dunk... probably better than Vince [Carter]
At that point, Adonal had to leave, which was disappointing, as I would have liked to hear him expound on that point. However, I feel fortunate just to have been around him at all, as I found him quite enlightening. There are myriad reasons why he's such a popular interview subject among reporters, and not all of them directly pertain to basketball.