Brian Serra of Magic Basketball Online and Howard the Dunk is reporting that, as of now, Jameer Nelson’s yearly summer retreat for his teammates is canceled. It could be planned and scheduled for later in the summer, but Nelson’s agent, Steve Mountain, told Serra the team-building event is off as long as the lockout continues.
Typically it is around this time of year that Nelson will put the final touches on planning his team-building week. Usually by the end of July or in early August, many team members will gather in Philadelphia for workouts and hang outs organized and paid for by Nelson. Past team-building activities included taking batting practice at a Philadelphia Phillies game and paintball expeditions.
This is a somewhat unique practice the Magic have enjoyed since 2006. Nelson has taken his role as captain pretty seriously and this gathering could help explain how the team got so close and played so loose later in the season. The 2011 Magic certainly did not have the benefit of Nelson’s Building Magic program to bond and train and play together.
It is something the team does benefit from in something of an intangible way. I am sure Stan Van Gundy likes having the players comfortable playing and working out with each other before training camp starts. If ever Orlando needed this head start, it might be now.
But with an uncertain future, even for Nelson himself as he has already been mentioned in at least two serious trade rumors, the program is just not worth doing. As Serra writes: “It certainly doesn’t look promising that team officials are confident that this lockout will be a short one. It makes little sense to hold a team building event in August, which normally takes place right before training camp, when that training camp is unlikely to take place until November or December.”
Will Nelson pick it back up if things get a little bright on the labor front or teams are given some time for free agency before training camp begins? That depends on how quickly training camp starts after the lockout ends.
I personally believe this team-building week was a great way for the team to integrate new members and play and work out together without coach supervision. We have talked a lot about how rookies need summer league (since canceled) to begin understanding the playbook and show what they can do to the coaching staff. They lose that now.
The good news is every team loses that.
There is nothing in the lockout preventing Nelson from gathering his teammates. Players can work out together as much as they want so long as they do not have contact with team officials or staff. There just does not seem to point with training camp so far away.
Of course, the point of all this is that Building Magic is one of the little things that may separate good teams from great teams. Now Orlando, when the team likely needs it most, is missing out. Another quiet victim of the lockout.
Photo via DayLife.com.