Tuesday , Jun , 29 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Magic have a winner in Jameer Nelson

(Sports Network) – Orlando acquired Saint Joseph’s point guard Jameer Nelson,
who was drafted by Denver with the 20th overall selection, from the Nuggets in
a trade on draft night. The Magic obtained the draft rights to Nelson from
Denver Nuggets exchange for a future first round draft pick.

The Portland Trail Blazers decided to pass on Nelson, who spent four seasons
at Saint Joseph’s University, and pick high school point guard Sebastian
Telfair at No. 13, while the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets and Miami Heat
all picked high school players with pick 17-19.

Even though some teams seemed to show a lack of respect for the skills that
Nelson displayed in college, the Saint Joseph’s product has handled his
situation with class.

“It’s a blessing in disguise,” said Nelson. “Because obviously I’m wanted down
here (Orlando), I’m needed, and I obviously want to be down here.”

What merits Telfair being selected over Nelson? What has Telfair against his
high school competition that showed Portland that he will have more of an
impact in the NBA than Nelson.

Nelson averaged 16.8 points, 5.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds. and 2.05 steals in 125
career games at Saint Joseph’s. He left as the school’s all-time leader in
points, assists and steals. Saint Joseph’s also retired his jersey number 14.

What about Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami? The Hawks could have moved Jason
Terry to shooting guard and immediately plugged Nelson in at point. The
Hornets and Heat both have excellent lead guards in Baron Davis and Dwyane
Wade, but Nelson would have been a great backup and could have even played
with either one in certain situations.

Nelson will surely remember the teams that decided to pass on him when he
meets them on the court. He will be highly motivated and will play with a chip
on his shoulder.

“Yeah, it’s not going to go away,” said Nelson. “It’s not going to go away
after the season either. It will be with me throughout my career. Whatever I
have done so far in my career, in basketball or anything else, I was always
told I can’t do something. To me, to be drafted 20 is a blessing.

By acquiring Nelson, the Magic have a player who plays the game with passion,
heart and desire. No matter what the odds, Nelson is always ready for the

“Passion. I have love for the game,” said Nelson. “I know that everyone knows
that I have tattoos, and I have a tattoo right here on my chest that says,
‘love of the game’, a heart with a basketball in it. This is my job, and I’m
going to approach it like it is my job. Something that I love to do,
something that is fun to me.”

Nelson is already acting like a professional. He is coming to a team that
finished an NBA-worst 21-61 in 2003-04, and is also rumored to be close to
trading superstar Tracy McGrady. But, that does not deter his class or his

“I’m going to come in here and fulfill my role,” said Nelson. “Hopefully my
role is strong enough to help the team with their record. They have great
guys on this team, I”m going to do whatever I can do.”

Nelson is ready to prove to the teams that passed on him that they made a
mistake. Not only did the Magic get a class act when they traded for Nelson,
but they got a pretty good basketball player who is determined to succeed.