Denton's Notebook: March 28, 2012

By John Denton
March 28, 2012

NEW YORK – Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins and President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith got the bulk of the credit during the recent Dwight Howard drama, and rightly so because their work kept the six-time all-star center in a Magic uniform possibly through next season.

But an overlooked player in the Howard saga was Director of Player Development Adonal Foyle, who served as an ideal liaison between Howard and Magic management because of his recent playing career and his aspirations to someday be a NBA General Manager.

Foyle played in the NBA for 13 seasons with the Golden State Warriors and the Magic and he’s in his second season in his current capacity. He usually chatted with Howard on a daily basis prior to the trade deadline and talked extensively with the superstar center the day before he decided to waive the opt-out clause in his contract and remain with the Magic.

``My job was to represent the team and Dwight reached out to me. I’m always available for our guys, but I don’t know if I played a really active role because Dwight makes his own decisions,’’ Foyle said. ``I was on that trip to San Antonio (the day before the decision) to talk to him, but Dwight made his own decision.’’

One of the NBA’s great success stories, Foyle grew up on the tiny Caribbean island of Canouan (population 1,000) and taught himself to read under light from a kerosene lamp. He eventually earned a basketball scholarship to Colgate and carved out a 13-year NBA career. During his playing career he also became the Vice President of the NBA Players Association, and now he hopes to someday be a GM of a NBA team.

``I hope so, that’s a goal for me. I think I have a great boss now in Otis and I’m learning a lot from him. I hope to learn as much as I possibly can,’’ Foyle said. ``I’ve been on every side of the issue (as a player and negotiator). The challenging part of it is I’m a little more removed (from his playing days) and I’ve become a `suit’ for lack of a better term. It’s always a tough transition (from playing to managing) because I was always in charge of my own destiny as a player and I could play as hard as I wanted. I could bring everybody along with my effort. In this role, I have to be more talkative with players and let them know where the line is on some things. It’s a little bit harder doing this.’’

NBA VS. COLLEGE COMPARISONS: Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has coached both in college and the NBA, so he is well aware of the talent discrepancy between the two levels of basketball.

Naturally, Van Gundy disagreed when informed when former University of Maryland coach Gary Williams inferred that college basketball’s top-ranked team, Kentucky, could beat the woeful Washington Wizards in some scenarios in a one-game setting. Van Gundy said that while he respected Williams as a coach, he pointed out ``he hasn’t coached in this league.’’

``It’s absurd. People will say, `Oh, Kentucky has four NBA players.’ Well, the (NBA) team has 13 NBA players. In the ACC, the teams might have two or three NBA players, but with NBA teams they’re all NBA players,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The talent level, experience, age and the whole thing is the difference.

``Could anything happen on a one-night thing? I suppose because you have major upsets all of the time. But it would be rare and in a series it would be a joke. It wouldn’t be close,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``That’s just the way it is. (Kentucky coach) John Calapari has a lot of talent, but he does not have 13 NBA players. Even if they were they would all be NBA rookies and when has that ever been a success? So they wouldn’t win.’’

Van Gundy said rather than comparing college and NBA players, he said basketball fans should simply be enjoying the basketball in this weekend’s Final Four and the upcoming NBA playoffs.

``I don’t understand why that even matters. Just celebrate Kentucky, Ohio State, Louisville and Kansas for what they’ve done. Those guys are great college players and they are going to the Final Four,’’ Van Gundy said. ``They are great at their level, but let’s not get ridiculous (with NBA comparisons).’’

ETC: Magic reserve power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis was fined $35,000 by the NBA on Wednesday afternoon after it was deemed he made an inappropriate gesture at a fan. Davis suffered a gash on the top of his head in the second quarter of Monday’s win in Toronto when he was hit by Raptors guard Jose Calderon. As he touched the cut and felt for blood, Davis gestured toward the crowd. Davis needed five stitches to close the cut and played the second half with a bandage on the top of his head. … The Magic missed out on getting their first taste of ``Linsanity’’ as Knicks’ point guard sensation Jeremy Lin did not play because of a sore knee. Lin and Orlando’s Ryan Anderson are leading candidates to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Lin is averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 assists, while Anderson is averaging 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds and came into Wednesday’s game leading the NBA in 3-pointers made with 143. … Anderson set a new career high with eight 3-pointers in Monday’s game. After making six in the first half, Anderson remarkably got open for a seventh three seconds into the third quarter, causing Raptors coach Duane Casey to slump his shoulders in disgust. Anderson was relayed a similar story from Phoenix center Marcin Gortat, who witnessed Anderson stroke in seven 3-pointers last week. Said Anderson: ``Marcin said all their coach talked about before the game was not giving me open shots and then I got them.’’ … The Magic are back at the Amway Center Friday night to host the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. It is the only meeting between the two teams this season.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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