Kobe in West, D-Wade in East take lead in All-Star voting
The NBA released the first returns in its All-Star balloting and the Orlando Magic have done well so far. Center Dwight Howard, who set a record for total votes received last year, is again in line to start this year; he leads Shaquille O'Neal, his next closest competitor, by more than 400,000 votes. Meanwhile, Vince Carter is in line to start at guard, second at the position only to the Heat's Dwyane Wade, who leads all vote-getters in the Eastern Conference. Carter leads Gilbert Arenas is big, but not insurmountable, at just under 80,000 votes.
Rashard Lewis ranks 10th among Eastern forwards. Jameer Nelson, the other Magic player on the ballot, did not appear in the early results. Naturally, none of this damages their chances of actually playing in the game...
Chat: John Hollinger
...because as John Hollinger explains, the coaches--who select the reserves--tend to reward good teams by allotting more roster spots to their players.
Likely East All-Star team is Wade, [Chris] Bosh, LeBron [James] and nine players from the Celtics, Magic and Hawks.
Denton: Lack of Respect Motivates Magic
I enjoyed J.J. Redick's perspective on the Magic's lack of respect, which has become a fairly tired subject.
"Around the league I think we’re well respected, especially among players and coaches who know the game of basketball," Magic reserve guard J.J. Redick said. "We have three legitimate superstars and four really when Jameer (Nelson) is healthy. But we’re a small market and we’re not L.A., we’re not New York and we don’t have LeBron James.
"We’re starting to get some attention, but we don’t set out for that. We just want to win," Redick continued. "I think we’d rather be called the best team in June than the best team on Dec. 9th."
#13 Orlando Magic
Forbes.com rates the Magic as the NBA's 13th-most-valuable franchise. I found this fact particularly interesting:
This [sic] Magic's run to the finals last season, where they were defeated by the Lakers, boosted their bottom line by $5 million. The extra loot from the postseason will come in handy as the team awaits its new building, the Amway Center, scheduled to open in the fall of 2010.
It's also nice to see that the franchise has increased in value each year since 2002, and in revenue since 2004.
Stephen Jackson fits in with Bobcats, Larry Brown
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated writes about Magic backup point guard Jason Williams, pushed into starting duty due to Nelson's knee injury. Williams came out of a year-long retirement to sign with Orlando in August.
"Sometimes when you have a long career you like it and you appreciate it, but I think it goes to another level when you have a year off," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. "He really wanted to come back. The thing we liked with him, which is a lot like what we liked with Rafer [Alston] last year, is that we had a pretty good confidence level that if needed, he could play big minutes. He just always had one of those motors that he could go a long time."
Rafer Alston rips New Jersey Nets, winning streak halted at one as Golden State Warriors romp
Alston is not happy with his teammates in New Jersey, to which Orlando dealt him in a package to obtain Carter and Ryan Anderson. In short order, Alston went from starting for an NBA Finalist to backing up the worst team in the league.
After the Nets took a 105-89 pounding from the Warriors last night at the Meadowlands, Nets reserve Rafer Alston blasted his teammates for not sticking together through the tough times.
[....] But what especially rankled Alston last night was seeing teammates fail to pull for each other before an announced crowd of 10,005 at the Meadowlands.
Alston would not have been happy here backing up Nelson, but clearly he's unhappy in New Jersey as well. The middle ground would be for the Nets to trade him to a team that needs a point guard, most obviously Alston's hometown New York Knicks. But because Devin Harris and Keyon Dooling, the Nets' other point guards, have nagging injuries, the Nets will likely hang on to Alston's expiring deal.
Fun With Numbers and Venn Diagrams
UPDATE: Ryan Schwan of Hornets 247 attempts to categorize point guards using a series of Venn Diagrams. It's interesting to see where Nelson (the scorer) and Williams (the distributor) land here.