Sunday, January 26, 2014

Glen 'Big Baby' Davis Orlando Magic Tank BINGO

This is the sequel to the original game, but this BINGO varies from the team version because you only have to focus on one player. Glen Davis is a part of so many good and bad moments of games that he was destined to headline BINGO. We all love Big Baby and this isn't meant to hate on the man. You can go the alcoholic drinking route, or you can make it fun for the entire family!

10 Great Things About the Orlando Magic Mobile App

If you don't know yet, the Orlando Magic last week unveiled its team-specific mobile application for phones and tablets. It doesn't cost a penny and you can download it now on Apple iTunes and for your Google Androids. Over the past few days, I've been able to utilize the app and thoroughly scroll through it with my iPhone 4S. If you're making fun of the fact I don't have the most updated Apple product, feel free to buy me a new one.

Anyway, I've put together a list of 10 things that I found outstanding with this mobile app.

1. Duh! It’s Specifically for the Magic!
No more weeding through generic sports apps that suck (ESPN ruined ScoreCenter) to get your Magic news and scores. It's one finger tap instead of half a dozen to figure out news, scores, stats, schedule info, videos, view team game photos, listen to Magic DriveTime radio recordings, and more. For those who are not in a wifi spot, that makes a dramatic access difference. I can actually depend on a Game Tracker that's accurate and that I don't have to question if I'm not following a Magic game. 

2. Quick Access to Magic Twitter Feed

Twitter runs the world now - or at least the social media aspect of it. You can immediately view the Magic’s feed update for new tweets and news stories from team writers like John Denton. The next step? Adding more media members that cover the team. That’s not going to happen though because they’re not employed by the Magic organization, and thus display harsh critiques from time to time. I’m more than guilty of this because I always demand more from Orlando coaches and players. A man can dream though.

You can hunt down the Magic's official Facebook and Instagram accounts via the 'Social Media' tab.

3. Shot Charts!!!

And detailed ones at that. It’s basketball porn for guys like me who want to always prove that Glen Davis needs to shoot less jumpers. You can check out the entire Magic team's shot chart for the game or break it down by quarter(s). You can view each player's shot chart and develop your own opinion about where he should be launching field goal attempts from. Same goes for opponents and their players. The Heat Map is fantastic. I would rename it though to 'Hot Map' or something that doesn't remind us of a certain NBA franchise further south of O-Town. 

4. It’s Visually Appealing 

That’s literally 50% of the battle when you’re trying to put together a successful app. Functionality can only take you so far if your app is an eye sore, which this isn't. It also helps when the Magic’s team colors are awesome and web creator friendly. The utilization of game flow charts and bar graphs seems like it's simple, but the crispness for how it's been executed really deserves a lot of applause. Don't screw with it, ever. 

5. YouTube Videos with No Ads 

For clarification, please keep watching my YouTube clips of Magic player and coach interviews. That’s how I get paid for my blogging services. If you can click a blog article or YouTube advertisement then that’s even better.

The Magic though don’t generate enough views for their videos to constantly bombard us with 15-second ads for KIA, Marriott, and CenturyLink. So the subtle addition of ad-less YouTube clip versions of their production footage that can be accessed via the mobile app is a plus.

6. Player Profiles

Eventually, I'm expecting the additions of college and nationality backgrounds, as well as random factoids like how Andrew Nicholson loves to eat ox tail to be listed to give the players some added profile personality. For now, sticking with a player's regular season and playoff statistics, having their profile pic, and also being able to view the roster by jersey numerical order (for the less savvy fan) is a fine start. 

7. Message Board Access

I don't utilize the Magic message boards, but clearly a lot of fans do if you just take a peek at their web traffic. Now you don't have to be in front of a bulky computer, or open a Safari page to access the team's official message forum. It's just another tiny thing that really goes a long way in making team-following life easier on your fan base.

8. Being Able to Tweak Your Settings

Is the text too small for you to read what's on your phone? Enlarge it. Do you want news notifications, as well as the final score, but not the quarterly score notifications? No problem. We live in a society that feels special when you can customize anything and everything. This again is a small part of the app that pleases your fans. Also, because of these notifications, I believe fans no longer need to use the Magic's texting service. 

9. Buying Tickets

Ticketmaster can be a frustrating beast to deal with at times, but the Magic app makes purchasing a ticket rather smooth. You can buy tickets for road and home contests. The various types of ticket packages and promotions seem to be up-to-date. The 'Best Available' filter as well as the various price filters do work properly. Most importantly, it's easy to view the Amway Center (or any NBA arena's) seat map if you have a preference for where you want to watch the game action. It's easy to navigate back and forward. You can log in with your Ticketmaster profile, and your choice of payment is simple enough to input. 

10. NBA Standings is on the mountain top as far as having the most appealing format for displaying all 30 teams' win-loss records. The Magic app has stuck to that format, something other major sports sites and apps need to adopt. You can see how many games back in the division and conference you are, see division and conference records, see how a team has done over its last 10 games played, and find out who is on a lengthy win or losing streak. I'm not 'reaching' here, this is an important part of the Magic app. 

I do have one gripe. If you're a shopaholic, this app may not be appropriate for your rehab in regards to viewing the Orlando Magic Team Shop. My can you view a plethora of Orlando gear and novelty items. However, the mobile app hasn't made the team shop mobile friendly. It still opens up as if you're viewing the site on an internet browser. Hopefully that changes soon. 

Overall though, the Orlando Magic deserve to be commended for an outstanding FREE mobile app. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Apathy & Fan Regret Main Worry for Orlando Magic

It’s a scary time to be an Orlando Magic supporter. This franchise won’t be in the postseason again come April, after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2006. Fans will be challenged to emotionally and financially support a franchise that can’t begin to fathom contending for a championship until summer 2014. And that’s the best case scenario. You’re looking at 2015 and beyond most likely. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat are seeking their fourth NBA championship, while the Magic just have their 2 Finals appearances. More and more folks living in Orlando - transplants and natives - seem to be wearing the red jerseys of our rivals down on South Beach. 

Those Magic fans who don’t want to learn the business of the new CBA-driven NBA are understandably frustrated and flat out pissed off to have seen the likes of Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, and JJ Redick be dealt away by GM Rob Hennigan without name-recognition coming back in return (Tobias Harris the exception). Those fans could care less about cap space or draft picks. They want physicial assets of talent. We’re waiting on the fates of veterans Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, and Glen Davis to see if any of them get traded away, and if Magic nation can get its hopes up for the upcoming offseason. 

At what point do even the most dedicated of Magic supporters who attend games start looking around and see those $15 tickets for Orlando City soccer and the Solar Bears and go: ‘You know, I could go to one game of each and it’s still cheaper than my Magic ticket. They’re winners, and I don’t know when this Magic team will turn it around. If the Magic don't seem to care, then why should I be giving them my money.’ In my opinion, It’s already happening.

Give the Magic marketing crew and the still new Amway Center credit. They’re still getting over 15,000 people to show up on most games. Depending on what website tool you prefer to utilize, Orlando is ranked around 23rd in the league. That's respectable for a franchise that currently has the 2nd-worst win-loss record in the NBA. It’s not always just Magic fans though. We’ve had to deal with visiting fan bases invading Amway Center the past 2 years. The bus loads of Brazilian tourists are a massive help. Hopefully the tourists keep flocking in when they find a reprieve from the theme parks. The other factor that's good and bad is the corporate sponsors who own the box suites and get plenty of tickets to hand to their employees. Great for the turnstiles, not so solid if you're counting on people to scream their support of the on-court product. 

There’s just no where near the buzz of a 'home court atmosphere' like there used to be. A lot of that has to do with being in an arena that’s about 4 times as big as the old one. Noise just doesn't amplify like it did in the old building. Some of it is the extra activities you can do at Amway Center that didn't exist at the O-Rena. The bigger problem is the aging fan base that populates the lower bowl of Amway Center. Funerals are louder than what the first 10 rows of people at the arena produce noise level wise. That's if they're even occupying their seats. In fairness, there's not much to be excited about lately. But how often do you really see anyone your parents' or grandparents' age go crazy and 'embarrass' themselves with screaming and other fan interaction activities in this portion of the United States? 

Let's do some math. The Magic are in their 25th anniversary season. Let's say for instance that you're 25 years old in 1989 and are an inaugural season ticket holder. That's best case scenario. Odds are you're in your 60s or 70s presently and still attending. Maybe your kin now attend. Anyway, back to the 25-year-old. You went through the teams's early growing periods with a big smile on your face because Orlando is a major sports city now.

Hopefully life has treated you well and you've been doing well enough financially to still have your tickets. Hopefully personally you're happy and have an awesome spouse and outstanding kids. You're at least 50 now and have your AARP card. You've been able to get the entire family hooked on this franchise and they're fans for life either because of the mid-'90s run, Penny's Jordanesque period, Heart 'N Hustle, the T-MAC era, and/or the SVG-Dwight title-worthy teams.

Congrats, I salute you. Now what? You've gone from 1989 to 2014. You're older, you're not as patient. You've now spent 2 seasons watching a product you know isn't competing and praying to God '14-'15 won't be the same. You're not as excited. In fact, maybe the Magic have made you miserable since you feel like you're wasting thousands of dollars. The pure joy of the in-game experience isn't there, and no amount of free food and perks can prevent the feeling of disgust for the one non-human thing that you always adored from developing deep in your soul. Maybe it's not even disgusts, it's apathy. You don't care. You've become Mistress Meh or Captain Careless. You see Jack 'Sweater Vest Guy' Nelson and Dennis 'The Fat Guy' Salvagio and mock them for being old geezers who have more than a few screws loose. You'll get bright spots of relief here and there, like Vucevic's rebound record, but it's not enough. You're sick of the word 'tanking'. You think Jacque Vaughn is Johnny Davis. You've owned blenders that are older than Rob Hennigan. You're watching the worst on-the-court Magic basketball product since Matty Guokas was coaching and Pat Williams was the General Manager. The difference is there's no grace period of forgiveness. The franchise isn't new anymore.

The Magic should have an endless cycle of elder fans exiting for the afterlife or full-time retirement, and replacing them should be professional working types that are half their age who may or may not have spouses and who may or may not have children. These career-minded folks should have grown up with the Magic being in their sports-loving blood. They've got money to go unwind at a game to drink, eat, and watch basketball. It's not working out like that. Part of it is economical hard times. The Orlando area ranks low in cost of living in the country when it comes to markets that have over one million people, but Orlando also ranks very low when it comes to average salaries. So it's cheap to live here, but there isn't too much money to spare for attending large chunks of a Magic season. The Magic are not the only viable sports show in town.

For $250, you can purchase solid to outstanding FULL-SEASON OR HALF-SEASON TICKET seats to the following: UCF Knights football, UCF Knights basketball, Orlando Solar Bears hockey, Orlando City soccer. I'm neglecting the Predators because the Arena Football League is on shaky ground. That's 4 DIFFERENT SPORTS for $1,000. Those four alternatives cover the entire calendar year. What can $1,000 get you for Magic games? Well, take a look. You're either stuck in the O-Zone - where you do get a decent view and at least some potentially rambunctious company - or maybe you can get a handful of games in the lower bowl. 

That's what many people that live and spend time in Orlando are doing. People are done watching the Magic be terrible for 41 games at this moment. They're pushing the Magic to the side and picking 2, 3, or all 4 even of the season ticket sporting alternatives available to them. They're getting more bang for their buck. 

So here's a great honest question: 'Why do you choose to attend Magic games?'

Let me preface by saying, don't quit on your team and please keep spending money on this franchise if you already have been or are thinking of doing so. It's a great luxury viewing experience to have, being able to spend money on entertainment. This is one of the better franchises in the NBA. It's just a tough recovery period at the moment. You're not allowed to answer if you're gifted tickets. Of course you go if it's free. 

If you don't know my background, I'll give you a summary. I was born in 1988 in Orlando. I've been raised here. I've thankfully been able to travel enough to get a feel of what the country and the world is like. Yes, the outside views Orlando as basically nothing but Disney World. However, people from all corners of the world know about the Magic. I've been a diehard Magic fan since I could piece together memories.

I grew up watching those '95 and '96 teams. There were tears, something you don't want to see from a 7 or 8-year-old who is just watching a game. But see, it's not just a game. It's a release from daily life. It's an opportunity to love and support something that you know (or think you know) can be a constant entity you can support. You know the basketballs are being bounced from October until (if lucky) June. Then you have the Draft, then Summer League (which Orlando gets to host!), and then back around comes another season. It's awesome.

From 1998 I spent over a decade, on and off, parking cars for my family business. I've feasibly seen millions of Magic fans walk to and from the no-longer-existing O-Rena and gauged their interest, their dedication, their love, to the franchise they support. I've also been lucky to have earned free tickets, and owned various ticket plans during that time. I've seen some of the best and worst moments in person during that time. I was in the O-Rena when Darrell Armstrong stole the ball and robbed the 76ers of a win. I was there for Mike Miller's last game in a Magic jersey that overshadowed one hell of a comeback against the Hornets. I was in the building when McGrady put up 62. I endured WAY too many 2003-2004 season contests. I was there for Dwight's grown man 28-point, 26-rebound game. I've been in the O-Rena for various playoff highs and lows. I traveled to Atlanta to see the Magic sweep the Hawks in 2010. My point is, I understand why so many people are avoiding the Magic right now. It's not hip, it's not cool, it's painful to watch a game on most game nights, the young talent growing isn't even satisfying at this time. 

I'm going to be 26 years old in May. I have a full-time job in banking and am very lucky to be an accredited Magic media member in my spare time as well. I have to be a financially responsible adult and pick and choose where and how I splurge my earnings. I get to attend every Magic home game and I get fed on top of that as a media member. No complaining on my end. I'm living a dream having all of this access to coaches and players. With that said, I would not spend money on a Magic ticket plan right now. If the on-court product is supposedly tanking, then so would my wallet. I'd be glued to my television, interacting on message boards and Twitter, and ponder how and when this Magic franchise will get it's act together again. I was a half season ticket holder for the Solar Bears last season. If they make the playoffs, you'll definitely see me there. I've attended a lot of Orlando City soccer games and am a proud 2014 season ticket holder as I'm in line to reserve seats for the 2015 MLS campaign. I'm also a multi-year UCF football season ticket holder since graduating as a Knight. In case you don't know, it's a damn great time to be a Knight.

I will cry like a little sissy girl when the Magic win a championship, member of the media or not. Whether I'm still living in Orlando or not. It's not a matter of IF, it is indeed WHEN, because God damn it I still believe. We believe in Magic. That's never going to change. There isn't a bandwagon fan in the world that will dampen that feeling of my home team winning a major championship. I've been on board with this franchise since birth.

Why do you choose to attend Magic games? You can pocket the money, watch or DVR the game that will more than likely end in another loss, get your highlights of Oladipo or Vucevic or whoever, play your tank BINGO, and throw down some of that money on the Solar Bears or Orlando City soccer. Hell, even the Predators if you're not a UCF fan. 

Why do you choose to attend Magic games? If I'm asking the question (THIS GUY, the most diehard Magic guy around), then what does the Magic franchise think the rest of the community is doing (or already has done)? They're bleeding season ticket holders by the hundreds and thousands over the past few years. The once outstanding in-game experience of a Magic game is dying, and the outside world is noticing. I keep hearing the stories of Orlando citizens who have owned season tickets or plans for DECADES and just can't find any motivation to continue attending. The Magic front office and ownership needs to think long and hard about how they want to approach the 2014-2015 season. Can you honestly afford to keep feeding Magic fans your 'process' and rebuilding spiels while sacrificing your current support base and the future generation of Orlando natives? 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Orlando Magic Drinking 'Tank' Bingo

The birth of the greatest game to lighten the mood of continuous Magic losing has been created. Now it gives Hennigan extra incentive to make trades, so that I am forced to re-do this board. Odds are on any given Orlando game night, you'll find yourselves screaming "BINGO!" on several occasions. Drink responsibly as always, and may your patience continue to grow and prosper.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Farewell Hedo, May You 'Turkey Dance' off into the Sunset

If you don't know by now, Hedo Turkoglu was officially waived by the Magic on Friday in order to avoid having to fully pay Turk his $12 million owed to him this season. Not only is a roster spot free now, but Orlando is now under the salary cap. It's a quiet ending for a man with a lot of passion and charisma for the game he loved and made a damn good living off of. The last time the 34-year-old ever played for the Magic was February 4, 2013. Hedo has been kept away from Jacque Vaughn's roster and the Amway Center facilities for the entire 2013-2014 campaign. The franchise he helped grow has no more use for an overpaid aging hero. The Sentinel got some goodbye quotes from Hedo.

“In my head, I know one thing: For all these years, I gave everything I could for this organization and for this city. That makes me happy. I want to thank everybody I can in Orlando for all these years. 
“I don’t want to miss anybody. That’s why I want to say ‘everybody.’ 
“But, first, I want to start with Rich and Helen DeVos and all the DeVos family for all these years for making us feel [like] a part of the family. We were given tremendous support. 
“In the city of Orlando, the fans, they’ve been really great to me. . . . That makes me [feel] really special, and I want to thank them for every great moment I had here with them on and off the court. It was special to me. It’s good memories I will never forget. . . . 
“It was good days. Those days will never come again. Those people will always be special in my life. And Orlando will always be my second home. After Istanbul, Orlando will always be my second home. We love this city as a family. It’s been great years for me here. All these people, they were always behind me in the ups and downs. 
“They were really making my job easier with all the support and all this love. It was just making my job easier to produce on the court. . .  
“I want to say one more thing to the people that worked behind the scenes, all the people that make it happen that make me able to connect to the community in Orlando. I want to thank all these people that work for Orlando that make it happen. They do most of the work. We just show up and try to do our part, but they usually do their part more than us. . . . 
“Even when I stop playing, Orlando will always be a special place in my career, in my life, because I had the most time, the most success [in] my career when I was in Orlando. Pretty much the best memories in my basketball career.”

We all still love Adonal Foyle, but I’m glad we didn’t give him Hedo’s initial Magic contract. Yeah, that almost happened. Oh man what we almost missed out on. Lost in the shuffle of acquiring Dwight and Jameer and the trading away of Tracy McGrady, was quite an important free agency signing made by John Weisbrod on July 14, 2004. Hedo's first 4 seasons before arriving in Orlando were already monumental for a man carrying the flag of Turkey. He was a key piece in those phenomenal Rick Adelman-led Kings teams that came oh so close to overthrowing the Shaq-Kobe Lakers, as well as temporarily being on the Spurs during their period of dominance (though no title rings for Turk). 

Magic stats from John Denton:
"Turkoglu averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his 497-game career with the Magic. Over the team’s 25-year history, Turkoglu ranks sixth in games played (497), fourth in minutes played (16,234), sixth in points (7,198), seventh in field goals made (2,510), fourth in 3-pointers made (794), sixth in free throws made (1,402), fifth in rebounds (2,221), sixth in assists (1,927) and ninth in steals (425). He also had the most triple-doubles in franchise history with three."

Turk went from a Sixth Man of the Year candidate off the bench, to a starter, to one of the best point forwards of the new millennium at his prime which spanned a far too brief 3 years. Stan Van Gundy loved and hated Hedo probably a dozen times during the span of one game. But SVG knew how valuable a focused and motivated Turk was and he handed over much of the offensive reins over to Turk's hands to assert himself and carry the team when needed. His Most Improved Player of the Year season in 2007-2008 should have also included an All-Star appearance, especially considering the Eastern Conference awards he was racking up. 

Could Hedo have been better in the '09 Finals? Sure, but he he still had his moments and the Magic never would have gotten there without him. Look at the game logs from the 2009 postseason. It's insane how good this man was. Even when Otis brought Hedo back for the 2nd time, Hedo still had some shake weight triple-double spark left in him during that massive win streak following the '10-'11 Phoenix trade. Hedo has had a long and prosperous career. Those years in Turkey, playing for the national team constantly while still being in the NBA, eventually caught up. There's always going to be added wear-and-tear when you're a national hero. 

I’m going to miss how ‘Hedo’ would be auto-corrected to ‘Jedi’ on my iPhone. I’m going to miss his old military pictures and the hundreds of pizza puns. I'm going to miss all of his clutch momentsSo freaking clutch. I didn't get to interview Turk much, but I'll miss all of them. Even the sad chats. Then of course we have the hilarious interviews. I'm going to miss his deceptive athleticism. I'm going to miss all of those countless alley oops he'd connect with Dwight on. I'll miss following Hedo at EuroBasket or at the FIBA World Championships no matter how painful it was to watch. 

My most watched (by far) YouTube video posting ever was thanks to Turk. You’re not truly an Orlando citizen if you haven’t even once caught a glimpse of Hedo and his wonderful family in public, or shared a drink or casual chat with Turkey Dance when he wasn't practicing or playing games. He’s a popular human being for countless reasons, all very positive. Now, after hearing the news of him being waived, most fans in Central Florida will gladly do their best to quickly erase all memory remnants of the PEDs situation. We can once more remember the great Turk times and not be bogged down with the dead salary on his contract or his waning talents and athleticism.

Hedo won’t be gone forever. There’s a place for Turk to return and be honored in the future Magic Hall of Fame. Just like with Dwight, it’s all about time. Turkoglu is the best Small Forward in this franchise's 25-year history. Of course he'll be given his high praise when the dark cloud over him dissipates. It's a tiny blemish on an otherwise phenomenal career. If you disagree with that, then you need to re-evaluate how you analyze the game of basketball. 

Hidayet Türkoğlu. Whether you retire, play overseas, or even manage to join another NBA team and extend your professional stay in the league, know that there is an enormous group of Magic fans that will forever appreciate your service to this young franchise. 

So from a Greek to a Turk, cheers to you, Hedo.

Best Postgame Home Quotes of December

Not too many Magic high moments.

12/13/13 - Cleveland Cavaliers

Jacque Vaughn: "Only one person had the ball in his hands and that one person was shooting. So whether it was Kyrie shooting or Dion Waiters shooting, I think that limited their risk of turning the basketball over."

Tobias Harris: "Those guys hit some tough shots, especially Dion Waiters...When we get back on the floor, we have to value each and every possession, especially on the defensive end."

12/18/13 - Utah Jazz

Jazz big man Derrick Favors on game-winning defensive play:  "I just wanted to make a play because I missed the easy layup at the other end of the court. I just wanted to contest (Nelson's) shot and make him kind of arch it a little and he missed it."

Tobias Harris: "If we had the type of effort from the second half in the first half, it would have been our game from the jump."

12/21/13 - Sacramento Kings

Jacque Vaughn: "It doesn't go down to those last one, two, three plays. That's not what this is about. The margin of error is pretty small. The transition, the offensive rebound, the missed box out, those plays throughout the course of the game add up, and I think that's a lesson for us."

Arron Afflalo: "I'm a guy who I thought shoots free throws pretty well and I missed 2 tonight, on technical fouls no less. Just a wasted opportunity and those things sometimes become contagious, missed a lay-up on the bvreak, some key turnovers down the stretch."

12/23/13 - New York Knicks

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony: "We rallied today when Raymond and myself went down. We pulled this game out. Orlando never gave up. They fought to the end but we pulled this out."

Glen Davis: "Moral victories, it's time to win. We dug ourselves in a hole. I don't know if we had a chip on our shoulder, New York let up a little bit, we kept fighting. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game and we just didn't finish."

12/27/13 - Detroit Pistons

Pistons Head Coach Maurice Cheeks: "From the start of the game we just couldn't get anything going offensively, defensively...It looked like we got a couple of stops in the 3rd quarter but we couldn't score and it just kept going downhill from there."

Detroit guard Brandon Jennings: "There was no sense of urgency. We didn't match their energy at all tonight."

12/29/13 - Atlanta Hawks

Tobias Harris: "We had, I think, 30 assists tonight and that says a lot about us. We passed the ball a lot tonight and it started with Arron. The man was getting double-teamed, he was really making the right plays for us as his teammates out there."

Arron Afflalo: "30 assists and 7 guys in double figures, that means that everybody is being aggressive and being aggressive with the right intent. We we do that we play for each other and we can compete with any team on a night in and night out basis."

12/31/13 - Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green: "When you can come into Orlando, a team who has some talent, and just hasn't put it all together yet, and is a young team that is going to continue to grow. They popped us twice last year, and we know we had to come in here and take this game very seriously and we were able to do that. It turned out well for us."

Jacque Vaughn: "You've got to give them credit. They came out and they were pretty suffocating defensive-wise. They were big at the wing positions, challenged our shots."