And the campaign has begun.
Well, really the campaign to keep Dwight Howard with the Orlando Magic began when Otis Smith made sweeping changes looking to upgrade the Magic roster this season by bringing in Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas.
Seeing how well that worked, some Magic fans have launched a Web Site — StayDwight.com — to serve as a community bulletin board where fans can express their undying love for Howard. There will be a message board, fan video spaces and more. And you can bet the new site will get busy after the playoffs. And after the lockout.
Howard has a lot to weigh in any decision about an extension and staying in Orlando. (He can opt out in the summer of 2012, which means if he doesn’t sign an extension Orlando would be in the place this season Denver was last season.)
Part of it is that things in Orlando are pretty good — this is a 52-win roster that went to the NBA finals a couple years ago. They have a new building which means revenue should be good for the franchise, meaning it can go after players. There’s no state tax. There’s Mickey Mouse. There is warm weather. There is the chance that staying and retooling in Orlando is a better path to a ring than leaving.
Or, he could try to leave because almost anywhere he lands that team becomes an instant threat. There is the Arenas contract and other things that make it look like what you see now is what you get with the Magic for a few years.
And the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could render this entire discussion moot. Who knows what restrictions on player movement will exist (hello franchise tag!) or incentives there will be for players to stay put.
Lots of things for Howard to weigh. And the love of Orlando fans seen on StayDwight.com is part of that.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.