Magic Blog: Dante’s Speak
Dante's Speak Archive
The Lottery We've All Been Waiting For
Even though the Magic weren't picking till the middle of '09, this year the NBA Draft was one that I couldn't wait to get started!!
Would Kobe Bryant get traded? Would Amare be shipped to Atlanta? Would the Boston Celtics get KG for Theo Ratliff? Such exciting rumors, not to mention Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Yi and three Gators.
Start the coverage at 7pm, instead of 1am, and show me a shot of Spike Lee and some clips of Greg Oden dancing awkwardly all by himself and let's get on with it!!
Before the draft even starts, Andy Katz has a trade to announce. Ray Allen to Boston for the #5 pick, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. WOW!! This night is gonna be HUGE! A superstar like Ray Allen gets traded, there will be a RECORD number of deals tonight!! Then it begins!!
1) PORTLAND-"With the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Portland Trailblazers select Greg Oden....." Even though we've all known for two years that he would be the first pick in '07, we still had to see it for ourselves. After all, this was the team that took Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, so anything's possible. Oden shakes hands with the Commish, puts on that giant hat and begins his life as a Blazer.
2) SEATTLE-To the surprise of no one, the Sonics take Kevin Durant out of Texas. They have no Coach, no Ray Allen, no Rashard Lewis, and possibly no Seattle after this year so Durant now becomes the only thing we know about the Sonics Organization.
Then Kevin's Mom realizes that her Son will spend the next few years playing alongside Robert Swift, and she begins to cry uncontrollably....as did I. We don't know much about the Sonics now that they're cleaning house, but we do know that Durant won more games at Texas last year than he will in Seattle!!
3) ATLANTA-This is where things get REAL exciting. The Hawks could do anything here from Horford, to Yi, to Sean Williams (giving them an underachieving Williams in three consecutive drafts). But surely they'll take Mike Conley and once and for all solidify that point guard position, right? WRONG!! Al Horford out of Florida is the pick. Not the point guard they needed but probably the most NBA ready player in the entire draft. Can't argue this pick!
4) MEMPHIS-What a steal for the Grizz as they land Mike Conley, Jr. Now you think about keeping Pau Gasol because you have someone that will pass to him. Add Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick and Mike Miller and suddenly you've become the 10th best team in the West. It's a start, and someone the Grizz can build their team around. Excellent pick!
6) MILWAUKEE-I love the moxie by Bucks GM Larry Harris with this pick as he takes the most intriguing player in this draft: 7-footer Yi Jianlian. The guy wouldn't come work out for the Bucks, and Yi nor anyone else from the entire country of China has ever even set foot in Wisconsin, but the Bucks take him at six. He's the best player available and you can't let his camp muscle you around like that. I love it!
7) MINNESOTA-The T'Wolves make Corey Brewer the second Gator taken in the top seven. This would also be the first of 67 times that night that ESPN would tell us he was wired for sound!
Brewer is athletic and he's a great defender, but his shot is overrated and playing alongside KG he's gonna have wide open looks all game. If he works hard on his shot, this could end up being a great pick. OH WAIT, that reminds me......KG HAS to get traded tonight right? We're only seven picks in so there's still plenty of time!
8) CHARLOTTE-It's great for the league to have Michael Jordan back.......again! What's not great for MJ though, is to have his name forever linked to Kwame Brown.
We know he wants a Tar Heel, just like he did in '01. Back then he couldn't justify Brendan Haywood or Joe Forte with the number one pick, but this year he can certainly justify Brandan Wright out of UNC with the 8th overall pick. Wright was a Bobcat for about 11 minutes, and was then dealt to Golden State for Jason Richardson......the fifth pick in '01. I wonder if Serge Zwikker will get a tryout!!
9) CHICAGO-The Bulls get to pick here thanks to Isaiah Thomas. This pick was sent to Chicago as part of the Eddy Curry trade, and now Joakim Noah is headed to the Windy City. This pick doesn't address Chicago's desperate need for a low-post scorer, but it does give the Bulls the best hair in the NBA between Noah and Ben Wallace. Scott Skiles is going to love this guy!
10) SACRAMENTO-Time now for new Kings Coach Reggie Theus to make his first ever draft selection. The choice is 7-footer Spencer Hawes out of Washington. Now I know what you're thinking: "This guy is the second coming of Todd Fuller!" Watch one highlight and you'll be convinced we've found the guy to lead stiffs everywhere into the 21st century!!
"When I start playing, people will really start realizing I'm not the big stiff that some people make me out to be,'' Hawes said Thursday night. Oh no! Now it's even in HIS head. Don't worry, here comes the vote of confidence from Team President Geoff Petrie, "He's a really skilled guy. He knows how to play his position.....he can pass the ball" Wow!
A team that desperately needs a rebounder, drafted a 7-footer that was SECOND on his COLLEGE team in rebounding!! What happened to that fun, run and gun, Sacramento team?
11) ATLANTA-If you're ever in the mood for a good horror story, go online and check out Atlanta's last few years in the NBA Draft. Last June the Hawks select Sheldon Williams at five, and Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy goes at number six.
In 2005, the Hawks select Marvin Williams second overall and two picks later Rookie of the Year Chris Paul is selected (DeRon Williams went third). In 2004, the pick was Josh Childress, taken next was Luol Deng! One can only think Mike Conley, Jr. will be an All-Star now that the Hawks passed on him at number three! They do get a damn good point guard though in Acie Law!
TWO MEASLY TRADES SO FAR? LET'S GO!
13) NEW ORLEANS-After a two-year hiatus, the Hornets are finally headed back to the city of New Orleans. We must never forget the incredible show of support by Oklohoma City though, helping this team through it's darkest hour!
Julian Wright out of Kansas is the pick here. If New Orleans can stay healthy, they'll be dangerous! Tyson Chandler had a break out year, Chris Paul is running the show and David West is a solid four. The bench is thin though, and Julian will have a chance to contribute.
14) LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS-The Clippers select Al Thornton out of Florida State. This guy might have been the most difficult to predict in the entire draft. Al was thought to go anywhere from 5 to 15, but he finds a home in L.A. The Clippers get a four year senior that can score inside and out. He hit 53% from the floor, including 44% beyond the arc! This marks the end of the lottery and no blockbuster deals.
There would be one more significant move to take place this night. The Portland Trailblazers, determined to overhaul their image, sent big man Zach Randolph packing to New York for Channing Frye and Steve Francis. Steve-O will be bought out and Frye will be a nice addition off the bench.
Now if Kevin Pritchard can get someone to take the remaining three years and $26 million due to Darius Miles, then he will get my vote for GM of the Year! Thank God this uneventful draft has come to an end, and now we can enjoy free agency!
Posted by Dante Marchitelli, March 7, 2007, 2:41PM
The Stay Retired Plea!
I begin this edition with a plea.....I am petitioning Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, and Doug Christie, to remain retired! Scottie, you didn't do a whole lot to help Portland when you were in the league five years ago, what makes you think you can bring anything to the table now? I know you are in great shape, and I know you probably could contribute something, but either you miss the game that much, or you are the greediest human being alive. You have SIX RINGS! WALK AWAY!! Whenever you're feeling down, or want to prove something to someone.....put on all six rings, walk into a bar and say, "I'm Scottie Pippen". What happens after that is the reason I don't feel bad for you!!
Reggie, you are a Pacer! You're the guy that gave Spike Lee the choke sign....... You're the guy that scored 40 points in 9 seconds, or whatever it was, in Madison Square Garden, You're also the only human being alive that got away with shoving Michael Jordan, IN the playoffs, and hitting the game winner.........and all that was in a Pacer uniform. The only way I can accept you coming back and playing for the Dallas Mavericks, is if the Mavs move to Indiana and change their name....to the Pacers!! Then you have my blessing!
As for you Jackie Doug Christie....where do I begin? Your show "The Christies: Committed" is quite possibly the most appropriately named show in Television history and also the only program on TV today that's worse than "Dog the Bounty Hunter". I would rather watch "Slam Dunk Ernest" all weekend, than one minute of your show. Yet I would prefer you do that program, over returning to the NBA. I love the state of the league right now, there are so many young, budding superstars...let's just give the guys we have a chance to win their own titles and write their own history!!
First, John Stockton! Come on back big fella. I know he's 44 years old, and no one's even seen him in three years, but I guarantee he's still in shape, and at 44 he's still more of an athlete than John Crotty was at age 19. He would have to play for the Jazz, and he'd only have to play about 3-5 minutes a game, but the insight he could give Deron Williams would be immeasurable.
Next.....Charles Barkley! I want him to return to the Phoenix Suns and have a chance to get his ring. He doesn't even have to play, in fact, we would all prefer he NOT play. Just sitting on the end of the bench, he'd already be contributing as much as Jalen Rose, Sean Marks and Eric Piatkowski. Yup, the Polish Rifle...you didn't even know he was still in the league did you? Neither did I, I just looked it up. Also, imagine the interviews! The personality he'd add to the league. It might be worth it for that alone!! Tell me TNT wouldn't have a blast with that whole scenario. Heck, mic him up, he could still do his studio stuff from the bench during the game!
Lastly, come on back Danny Ainge! Sure, he's 47 years old, but simply firing him would be letting him off the hook at this point. He should be forced to play WITH that mess he's created in Boston. Wouldn't that be an incredible incentive for General Managers? Every year the team with the worst record come the trade deadline, would have to suit up their GM!! That will make you think long and hard about acquiring Raef LaFrentz in a deal next time! Although, Danny Ainge now is still a much better shooter than Sebastian Telfair, so maybe that doesn't hurt them too much!
Lastly, pull that cursed Gatorade commercial that featured Dwyane Wade and his talking heads. We've already lost D-Wade to a separated shoulder, we saw that excruciating pain he was in. Then the next week we lose Shaun Livingston to a dislocated knee, and torn ACL, MCL, PCL. For those of us that saw that replay, we look forward to many weeks of waking up screaming uncontrollably. We still have a chance to save Paul Davis if we act now!!
Posted by Dante Marchitelli, February 21, 2007, 3:56PM
The Trip to Vegas
After an unbelievable trip to Las Vegas that saw everything from Prince to Manute Bol, I have lived to tell about my weekend!!
We begin Thursday afternoon when we landed in Vegas. As soon as I walked off the plane there were TNT cameras there to shoot my arrival into the city. I waved, put my hands in the air, stopped and posed until I heard the guy holding that giant boom mic say, "Move dude, you're in the way of Dwight" I pretended I didn't hear him and then boarded the bus waiting to take us to the hotel. First stop, drop off Dwight Howard! When we pulled in front of his hotel that same camera crew was there to shoot his arrival there as well. I did not interfere with this shoot.
En route to our next stop we passed the New York, New York hotel in which a giant Dwight Howard Eastern Conference All-Star jersey was draped over the Statue of Liberty out in front. It drew the same cheers from all of us that it did from Jameer and Bo. At that moment we all realized that Dwight had arrived. We later drove past the Luxor that had a poster of Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard covering the entire side of the hotel. Dwight doesn't even have a poster in Orlando, but he did in Vegas....this needs to change!!
Friday the fun began! The madness that is All-Star Media Availability. It began with the particpants of all the All-Star Saturday Night events. The Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-Point and Slam Dunk contestants. When the players started filing in, we found ourselves closest to Tyrus Thomas' table so we figured we'd start with him. I was destined to prove that Tyrus wasn't that bad of a guy, he just made a mistake with what he said about the Dunk contest. I was the only one at his table and I quickly found out why. Here's how our conversation went:
Dante: "Hey Tyrus, Dante Marchitelli with the Orlando Magic TV Network, nice to meet you"
Tyrus: "Hey (PR rep) how long do we gotta be here, 15 minutes?"
Dante: "Mind if I ask you a question?"
Tyrus: We gotta be here 30 MINUTES? I'm setting my stopwatch, ready? Gerald (Green) you wanna be on my watch? (Gerald turns away embarrassed).
Dante: "This will only take a second, can I just ask you about Dwight Howard?"
Tyrus: (mumbles something which might have been considered an answer, clocked at about :05 long"
Dante: "Thank you Tyrus, that was interesting too" and I left.
Gilbert Arenas held court the entire time, standing up, telling jokes, taking it all in. At one point he brought all of the reporters around him to his teammate Caron Butler, who had an empty table at the time, to make him feel good. Classy move! Later that night was the Celebrity Game, and then the Rookie Challenge. We know how those went, about the same amount of defense played in both, but an incredible display from Chris Paul, Monta Ellis and David Lee. Lee went 14-14 in that game, and took home the MVP honors with 30 points.
Saturday afternoon the East and West held open practices at the NBA Jam Session. At the end of the practice, Shaquille O'Neal issued a "Breakdance Competition-Bigs versus the Smalls" He led off the competition and brought the crowd to it's feet. I now see why Shaq gets hundreds of thousands of votes from fans, even though he only played four games. This weekend is built for Shaq! But Dwight held his own in the dance-off and you get the sense the torch will be passed and Dwight will be the main event very soon.
Did anyone else find it funny that Kobe lost the Skills Challenge because he couldn't pass?
All this leads us to the biggest travesty in slam dunk history.....Dwight Howard wows the crowd with an alley oop dunk, while placing a sticker of his face on the top of the backboard. Jameer Nelson measures the sticker at 12 feet six inches high and the crowd goes crazy. I looked at Kevin Holden and said, "If I stand on your shoulders, we're not 12 feet 6 inches combined." He replied, "We'll never know cuz you're sure as hell not getting on my shoulders". Point taken! What followed though, shook up the entire sports world for the next day:
Finally, the day of the main event. At breakfast Sunday morning I couldn't help but laugh. There was silence at every table in the restaurant. Everyone thinking about what they had done over the weekend. I watched a grown man fall asleep AS he was cutting his piece of pineapple. THAT should be a commercial for Vegas!!
Then the All-Star game itself! The West won in a romp but Dwight Howard made a name for himself. People were still talking about his dunk the night before and how he was robbed. He almost made more noise by NOT winning the contest. He came out on a mission and lit up the West for 20 points and 12 rebounds in his first ever All-Star game, drawing "ooohs" and "ahhhs' the entire way. It was certainly a weekend I'll never forget!! Viva Las Vegas!!
Posted by Dante Marchitelli, November 20, 2006, 4:58PM
What a Surprise!
Clark W. Griswold put it best when he said, "Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now". I know it's a little early for Christmas Vacation references, but too bad. I'm not saying that I'm surprised that the Magic are playing well, but I AM shocked at HOW well some things have already gone.
Tell me last year's Orlando Magic team beats Seattle at the buzzer on November 8th! Not a chance! The Magic led much of that game, coughed up the lead on a late layin by Rashard Lewis, and then won on a Hedo Turkoglu fadeaway from the locker room with 0.4 seconds remaining. The poise, confidence and mental toughness that this team is displaying late in ballgames is head and shoulders above where they were last year at the start, and it will only get better.
Keep playing Dwight Howard straight up! In three games that I can think of (Chicago, Minnesota and Charlotte) opposing Coaches thought it best to have their star defenders (Ben Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Emeka Okafor) play Dwight without the benefit of a double team. In those three games, Dwight averaged 24 points and 18 rebounds! There is this miraculous device that will soon be open to the public, it's called TIVO, or DVR and it actually allows you to record TV programming without you even being home! I use it for such shows as The Office, 30 Rock, and Walker, Texas Ranger....but should this technology get in the wrong hands, I bet it could be used as a scouting tool! (Can we just put an Emeka Okafor jersey on every Center Dwight guards this year?)
You can actually win an NBA basketball game turning the ball over 27 times. Now, I know you obviously don't want to get into a habit of doing this, but it is encouraging that if you're having an off night, and can't hold onto the basketball, you can still win! This MUST get better, you can't win all season long turning the ball over this much, and they know that BUT how scary is this team going to be when they stop passing the ball to Nick Anderson on the sidelines and only create....say...15 turnovers a game!
This team is already jelling with Grant Hill.
They have one of the deepest benches in the NBA and Darko Milicic has just gotten going, Trevor Ariza just came back and JJ Redick hasn't even stepped on the floor yet.
There are raucous crowds on Monday and Wednesday nights! The fans have been tremendous this season....and when officials aren't blowing the whistle every 7 seconds, you can actually get a game going, and fans can get in some sort of rhythm.
Traveling, palming and carrying are once again violations in the NBA. I can FINALLY stop hearing my Dad say, "Why even make these guys dribble at all? Just take dribbling out of the game!"
Now, I'm not crowning the Magic NBA Champions by any means, I'm simply saying this has been a lot of fun to this point. If they continue to play as a team and not care who gets the glory, then it's gonna be a blast watching this young squad for years to come!
Posted by Dante Marchitelli, November 1, 2006, 5:41PM
To the City of Orlando and Magic fans everywhere: Your mission.....should you choose to accept it...is to spread the word to everyone about our 20-year-old phenom Dwight Howard! I'm not kidding about this. Tell your family, your friends, your mailperson and even your neighbor that mows his lawn in his dress socks! Dwight Howard is everything that's right with this league, he's what all NBA fans have longed for, and it's our obligation-not option but obligation-to tell everyone we know to watch this kid!
I don't want to hear about him being snubbed for the All-Star Game, because if that's the case, then we didn't do our job to get him there. And I will come to all of your houses and tell you about it personally! I want talk radio shows in this town to be flooded with calls about Dwight Howard and the Magic. Not that I don't like listening to 23 straight hours of college football, I just think SOMEWHERE we can fit in some Magic talk, and not have to hear how bad Chris Leak is. I want barbershops to be arguing over whether or not Dwight is the MVP and I want all this to happen TODAY!
I want to get my Starbucks coffee and see his picture on that little cardboard thing that's supposed to keep my hands from getting burned. I want to go to Publix and see his cut-out by the check out line. I want to walk downtown and see his poster in store windows. I want people to retire that Magic t-shirt from 1989, and upgrade to that Dwight Howard jersey! It starts with us. If he takes over this town, then maybe we can get him on a National stage, and "The Dwights" can move in next door to "The LeBrons".
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich played with Dwight all Summer long with USA basketball, and he told me Opening Night, "Dwight simply wants to be the best, and he works hard at it"...then he laughed and said, "he's goofy man". Well, I love that about him. He has the desire and work ethic to be the best post player in this game, but he also has the wherewithal to realize that it is indeed just a "game", and he should have fun. Watch his demeanor sometime, he is smiling the entire time he's on the court, BUT this year he's added that mean streak, and fights for everything down low!
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we need to go ahead and put his bust in Springfield, Massachusetts. What I AM saying is this town has something special. I see him every day, and that smile is always on his face. Sometimes I want him to say, "you know what? I guess I am pretty good out there!" But he won't! He never puts himself above the team, and he's far too humble to boast about his abilities... Even though he's earned the right to brag when he spins around 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace and hammers down a thunderous dunk, or defies gravity and swats away a Ben Gordon runner, but that's not what he's about. He's about winning and making the playoffs. That's all he's wanted since the day he got here.
Now I'm not telling you to buy into Tyronn Lue as the point guard to replace Darrell Armstrong, and I'm not telling you that Pat Burke should be our Opening Night Center! I'm not trying to sell you on the hope that Patrick Ewing and Shawn Kemp each have one more good year in them!! What I'm telling you is that Dwight Howard is the real deal. He loves it here, and we need to make him feel at home!
When he's starting in Vegas at this year's All Star Game, he'll know exactly who to thank, and he'll reward you by having you all over for Round 1 of the Playoffs!!
Posted by Dante Marchitelli, September 14, 2006, 12:20PM
My Summer Review
Ahh, what a great time I've had just sitting back and observing the "Summer That Was" for the NBA.
I was thrilled for Ben Wallace when I heard he was bound for Chicago, and leaving that sinking ship in Detroit. I loved hearing that Jameer Nelson flew his teammates to Philadelphia and spent a week playing paintball. I even got over the fact that our beloved USA basketball team lost to Greece, because you can't shoot 7-63 beyond the arc every game and expect to win the gold medal.
BUT, two things brought this Summer joyride to a screeching halt and I knew I had to get back on my computer. 1) Seeing Emmitt Smith on "Dancing With the Stars", and 2) clicking on Orlandomagic.com and seeing a fan actually ask Otis Smith if we could sign Shawn Kemp (pictured)!! I spewed coffee all over my desk and shorted out my keyboard. Enough is enough! Have I been away that long? Here are the three stories I've sat silent on for far too long!!
1) USA Basketball debacle - I have a solution. I'm tired of hearing that we lost because we didn't send Kobe, or Shaq or Kevin Garnett or Oscar Robertson. I'm tired of hearing we lost because we didn't have Ray Allen, or Michael Redd or Craig Hodges to shoot the long ball. We lost because we still weren't a TEAM! I don't care if you have 12 guys play together for an entire Summer or an entire decade, if they don't pass the ball to each other, defend, and attempt a two-point shot on occasion, then they aren't going to win.
The answer is not Coach K, or Phil Jackson, or even Pat Riley, because they're all guilty of allowing these guys to play that way. No, the answer is for our 12 guys to spend one month training with Spain's Head Coach Pepu Hernandez, or Argentina's Head Coach Jon Uriarte, or even Panagiotis Yannakis of Greece. These coaches will begin the first day by asking each of his players to introduce themselves to each other.
'Melo: "Hi LeBron, I'm Carmelo Anthony"
LeBron: "Hey 'Melo, I'm LeBron James"
This allows all the members of Team USA to realize that they do indeed have teammates, and that there are more than 3 people on their team. An international Coach would blow a gasket if they saw their team shoot 9-40 beyond the arc in one game. "