I'll be at that Dwight Howard charity game tonight, so keep an eye out for some video footage. It's appropriate that today's flashback involves Penny and other Magic men who gathered together to get a better feel for the Lockout situation.
Penny Hardaway left Thursday's meeting with Orlando Magic management feeling good about playing again in Central Florida but also knowing it won't happen anytime soon.
In the first face-to-face meeting since the NBA's work stoppage began July 1, Hardaway and four other Magic players spent more than an hour with management personnel at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland.
Although the players left happy with what they heard, there was no indication that a working agreement between the owners and players was close.
``Everyone's wish is that we start playing again very soon,'' Hardaway said. ``But I think late December or early January might be more realistic.''
The meeting was attended by Hardaway, Gerald Wilkins, Darrell Armstrong, Johnny Taylor and Bo Outlaw. Magic President Bob Vander Weide and General Manager John Gabriel also were in attendance. Owner Rich DeVos addressed the group by satellite hookup.
Surprisingly, there was very little talk about the details of the stalled negotiations between the union and the owners.
``It was more of a good-to-see-you-again meeting,'' Wilkins said. ``There wasn't any attempt at persuasion.''
Most of the talk centered on what the future might be like when play does resume, and how they might win back disgruntled fans.
``I didn't know what to expect coming into the meeting,'' Hardaway said. ``But it turned out to be enjoyable. I think everyone agreed that once this thing is over, we won't come back and be mad at each other. When this thing gets settled, we're partners again.''
Although all Magic players were invited to attend, many didn't show up. Nick Anderson declined to attend, preferring to play basketball at the health club downstairs from where the meeting was held. Outlaw arrived 30 minutes after the start.
Roy Hinson, former NBA player who works for the union, was distributing literature outside the complex to arriving players.
``I wish more guys could have come, but it was worth it for me,'' said Darrell Armstrong, who came from Atlanta and will leave town today. ``I liked what I heard from Mr. DeVos.
We talked mostly about the fans, and how we can try to win them back once this is over. And that's important.''
Armstrong, who missed the second half of last season after shoulder surgery, said he is healthy again but frustrated.
``I'm playing too much golf. I'm knocking someone's window out every day,'' Armstrong said. ``And I'm losing money right there because I have to pay for windows. I want to go back to work.''
Vander Weide and Gabriel declined to comment on the meeting. In New York, meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern was not optimistic about a settlement any time soon.
``They [players) have told us that unless we are prepared to continue paying the same percentage [of revenues) that we're currently paying, then they are prepared to have the season canceled,'' Stern said. ``So they haven't given the owners much of an option.''