Denton: Nelson Proud of Longevity in NBA
By John Denton
Feb. 19, 2014
CLEVELAND – Doubted early in his career because of his lack of size and his shoot-first mentality, Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson is most proud of the longevity that he’s been able to sustain in the NBA.
Because Nelson is just the second player ever to wear a Magic uniform for 10 seasons – Nick Anderson is the other – he’s been able to achieve some impressive accomplishments in the team’s all-time record books.
Already the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, a feat that he accomplished last season, Nelson entered Wednesday’s game in Cleveland needing just 12 points to eclipse Shaquille O’Neal and move into fourth place in Magic history in scoring. Sure, it’s taken Nelson 10 NBA seasons to do that, but the 6-footer is proud that he’s stayed around long enough to move up the charts.
``I’m honored to last this long in the NBA and continue to live out my dream in the NBA,’’ Nelson said before Wednesday’s game. ``And being with the same organization for the amount of years I’ve been here, it’s great. To be recognized in the same sentences with the guys that I’m passing in the record books, it’s just an honor because those guys are great players.’’
Nelson recently turned 32 years old, but he’s still playing the game at a high level. Never was that more evident that Tuesday night in Milwaukee when he had 13 assists and no turnovers, and his final assist led to a go-ahead basket for Orlando in the final minute. Nelson entered Wednesday night averaging 12.9 points, 6.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds and if he can keep it up it would be the seventh straight year that he’s averaged at least 10 points, five assists and three rebounds. Only LeBron James (seven) and Chris Paul (nine) have longer active streaks.
Only Dwight Howard (11,435 points), Nick Anderson (10,650) and Tracy McGrady (8,298) have scored more points than Nelson. The veteran point guard has now played 634 games, and he could pass Anderson (692 games) next season provided that he’s still with the Magic.
``The coaches that I have had through the years have had have put the ball in my hands and trusted me to make plays,’’ Nelson said. ``It’s an honor to be recognized with those guys.’’
MORE FROM MOORE: E’Twaun Moore often gets overlooked on the Magic because of his humble, low-key persona, but Orlando head coach Jacque Vaughn considers the reserve guard to be a key cog because of his versatility.
Moore plays primarily at the point, but he’s also a good off-the-ball player at shooting guard. And in some small-ball lineups, he’s even played small forward and power forward because of his toughness and ability to guard bigger players.
Moore came up big for the Magic Tuesday in Milwaukee, where about 10 friends and family made the two-hour drive up from East Chicago, Indiana to watch Moore play. He had a season-high 17 points, three 3-pointers and two blocked shots in 23 minutes off the bench. And his biggest play of the game came when he stripped the ball from Caron Butler in the final minute to set up Orlando’s go-ahead basket.
``I hit a couple of open jumpers and when they went in everything after that just felt good,’’ Moore said. ``I got a few easy ones and I went to the free throw line. When you get easy buckets, your confidence goes up.’’
Vaughn likes having Moore in the rotation because it allows him to rest Nelson from time-to-time and also he’s able to play rookie Victor Oladipo at both guard slots with Moore available.
``He’s fit in a lot of different areas for us,’’ Vaughn said. ``His ability to guard multiple positions, handle the basketball and come off screens helps us. His decision-making has gotten better and that’s helped his game.’’