Developing a good relationship with your point guard is extremely important for any NBA player, which is why several members of the Orlando Magic spend part of each summer traveling to the home town of starting point guard Jameer Nelson. The players train, eat, and participate in other activities together.
J.J. Redick, who was retained by the Magic during the offseason after the Magic matched the three year, $19 million offer sheet he signed with the Chicago Bulls, frequents this trip.
However, with Vince Carter remaining Orlando’s starting shooting guard, Redick is usually on the court with Orlando’s backup point guard. Last year, the backup was Jason Williams but he has since been relegated to the third team. Former New York Knicks’ starting point guard Chris Duhon has taken over the job of running the second team.
Duhon, who was coveted by Otis Smith and the Orlando Magic brass for several years, signed a four year contract worth $15 million during the offseason.
Usually, there would be some growing pains and a time period in which a player must get acclimated to his new point guard, but this is a special situation. Redick and Duhon spent two years together at Duke University. The guards shared the backcourt during the 2002-‘03 and the ’03-’04 season.
Duhon was named ACC Rookie of the Year during his freshman season in 2001 while Redick was twice named the ACC Player of the Year and won nearly every national award during his senior season.
During their two years together, Duke put together a 57-13 overall record, a 24-8 record in ACC play, earned a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2003 and a Final Four appearance in 2004.
After several seasons apart, the two guards are very happy to be back on the court together.
“I love playing with Chris,” Redick said. When he signed this summer, it was the week I was in limbo. When I heard I was coming back, I was so stoked to reunite with him.”
“Chris and I have a natural chemistry,” Redick added.
Redick went on to say that Duhon is a player who can “make everyone else look good.” Duhon feels a similar way about Redick.
“We played together for two years and we were kind of the focal points of our team,” Duhon explained. “I know what he likes to do, what he’s good at it. I know he’s improved but that’s just something that you don’t forget.”
It’s not just Redick and Duhon. All Duke players have a special bond with each other, whether they played together or not.
“Chris and I, we’ve kept in touch,” Redick explained. “We see each other in the summer at Duke. I’ve paid attention to what he’s done – I pay attention to what all the Duke guys do – especially the ones I’ve played with.”
Redick went to call Duke basketball players a “fraternity.”
“I have a great relationship with all the players and coaches, even the guys I didn’t play with,” Redick said. “If I see Elton Brand or [Carlos] Boozer, it’s like we played together because we played at Duke.”
Redick went into detail about why certain people choose to play for a school like Duke.
“I’ve always said that Duke is for some people and not for other people,” Redick said. “Duke was the perfect fit for me. I relished the challenge of playing there. You’re going to get every team’s best shot and I loved that.”
Redick, Duhon and their Magic teammates will need a similar attitude if they hope to accomplish their ultimate goal of winning a championship this season.
News & Notes:
The Magic were obviously upset after allowing the Utah Jazz to come back from an 18-point deficit Wednesday night, prompting Vince Carter to say the team learned “nothing” after nearly blowing an 18-point lead Saturday night in Charlotte against the Bobcats.
Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy called Orlando’s third quarter breakdown on Wednesday night “ridiculous professional basketball.”
Orlando’s turnover issues and lack of ball movement are what was really bothering Van Gundy after the game, prompting him to make that statement.
Dwight Howard picked up his fourth technical foul of the season during the fourth quarter Wednesday night. The Magic were whistled for three technical fouls in the game – Van Gundy picked one up in the fourth quarter and Rashard Lewis was called for one in the second quarter.
Ryan Anderson made his fourth start of the season but was benched after playing just 1:34 and never returned to the game.