Denton: Nelson Arranges Photo Shoot for Rookies

By John Denton
December 17, 2012

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic point guard and co-captain Jameer Nelson feels that the team is winning, in part, because the chemistry of the squad is better than it has been at any point of the season.

It remains to be seen if one of Nelson’s latest bonding sessions with the Magic’s four rookies has helped the team’s chemistry improve.

In his own way of welcoming rookies Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless, DeQuan Jones and Kyle O’Quinn to the Magic, Nelson arranged an extensive photo shoot for the group while having them wear matching holiday sweaters.

While acting as the photographer himself, Nelson had the four rookies take part in several chummy poses. They posed near a lake, by a tree and along with one of Nelson’s sons. Jones posted one of the pictures on his Twitter feed on Monday in which his fellow rookies were holding him in their arms.

``We got a text from Jameer with these goofy shirts and telling us to be at house Sunday at 5 o’clock,’’ Jones recalled. ``He brings the shirts to the locker room (earlier in the week). Then, we show up and he has a ladder set up and the perfect layout for a photo shoot.

``We were very coordinated, to say the least,’’ continued Jones, referring to the matching looks. ``We had fun with it.’’

Tonight, when the Magic (10-13) face the Minnesota Timberwolves (12-9) their mission is to push their winning streak to three games and get even closer to a .500 record.

Orlando had an impressive weekend, beating the Golden State Warriors on Friday at the Amway Center and toppling the Bobcats in Charlotte on Saturday. Golden State is among the hottest teams in the league with nine wins in the past 11 games, but their only losses came to the Magic.

The Magic will have their work cut out against a Minnesota team that should be at full strength. All-Star power forward Kevin Love is back from an early-season injury, while point guard Ricky Rubio is vowing to play tonight after recently making his return from knee surgery. Minnesota beat the Magic 90-75 back on Nov. 7 without those two standout players.

While many of the Magic players said there is no such thing as momentum in the NBA from game-to-game, they do believe in the nice rhythm the team is playing with the confidence that it has gained with success.

``You want to get a point where you are playing at a high level every game,’’ Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick said. ``You are not always in control of your results because there are so many good teams and good players. But what you can control is level of concentration, preparation, focus and all of that stuff. That can carry over and you can gain confidence from wins. But in terms of momentum, you still have to prepare the same way and focus the same way.’’

Nelson, who last week arranged a team function in Phoenix to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez boxing match, said the photo shoot for rookies was done in fun and used as a way to bring more humor and bonding to the locker room. He warned the rookies that the distribution of the photos might just be the start of his plans; he might also include them on Christmas cards or ornaments for the players on the team.

``It’s something you have to do, but we knew it was going to be a funny event,’’ O’Quinn said. ``We didn’t know it was going to be that properly planned. He had all of the scenes set and where he wanted to take the pictures.

Harkless said that the photo session started off slowly as Nelson figured out how to properly operate the camera he was using for the photos. After that, Nelson snapped dozens of pictures while instructing the players to ``lean right and lean left.’’

``He took a lot of pictures and I’m hoping that it’s not going to his private collection or something like that,’’ Jones said. ``He gave us the poses and told us to put our arms over this way. I think he might have a future with taking pictures for Sears or something when (basketball) is all over.

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