Cohen: Dream Come True for Jr. Magic League Prodigy

By Josh Cohen
October 18, 2013

ORLANDO -- Nick Calathes has already accomplished a ton in his basketball career.

He helped Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, FL win a state title in 2007 and was named a McDonald's All-American.

He went on to attend the University of Florida and joined his high school teammate, Chandler Parsons, to play for the Gators.

The Minnesota Timberwolves with the 45th overall pick drafted him into the NBA in 2009.

He traveled overseas and became one of the best players for Panathinaikos Athens where he won two Greek Championships and a Euroleague title. Calathes also captured a Most Improved Player of the Year Award and earned All-Star appearances. Last year while playing for Russia’s Lokomotiv Kuban he was honored with a Eurocup MVP.

Calathes has played for the Greek National Team and competed in FIBA Eurobasket and the World Championships.

He has now returned to the states after the Memphis Grizzlies acquired his rights from the Dallas Mavericks this past summer.

And his dreams became a reality on Friday when he played in front of his family and friends at Amway Center against the team he rooted for growing up in Central Florida.

But Calathes wasn’t just a fan of the Magic. He was a “Magic player” of sorts.

For years the silky smooth guard played in a Junior Magic League (FBVA), which consists of many Central Florida organizations that offer youth a rewarding basketball experience. These leagues provide youngsters a chance to improve their skills in fun, competitive settings while rewarding them with special perks for all their hard work.

And as promised to him all those years, the league helped Calathes grow into the player he is today.

After dishing out five assists and helping Memphis rack up a preseason victory on Friday, Calathes spoke to a bunch of current Jr. Magic League players to encourage them and help them stay focused on their own hopes and dreams.

“Everything that’s happened in Jr. Magic League helped me big time playing in tough competition and against older kids,” the Grizzlies newcomer said. “It was a great experience and I am happy I got to do all those things.”

Though he was away from home the last few years, Calathes continued to pay attention to the Magic. He made sure to watch the team during their unforgettable NBA Finals run in 2009 and will always have a heart for his favorite team as a kid.

“I was really rooting for them to win it all against the Lakers,” he said. “It was exciting and a great year for the Magic.”

Now Calathes hopes to be an integral role player for a team with championship aspirations.

"I’m excited to be back in the states and help this team be at the top level,” he said.