ORLANDO – When the NBA and the Orlando Magic officially unveiled the 2012 NBA All-Star Ballot today, allowing sports fans cast the first All-Star votes, a quick spotlight was put on Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer as he cast his vote.
That prompted Chris Sager, the sportscaster for TNT and TBS, to quickly rush over to the mayor, put a microphone to his mouth, and ask the big question: who did he vote for?
Considering that Dyer was on a stage in the Amway Center, the home of the Orlando Magic, and had four of the team’s players — Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu – sitting behind him, the mayor opted for a diplomatic response.
“I can tell you it was one of the four guys behind me,” Dyer said.
“That was a smart move,” Sager said, “because they all live in Orlando and you’re up for re-election.”
Today, the NBA, the Orlando Magic, the city of Orlando, and Sprint – which is presenting the balloting – hosted a celebration at the Amway Center in anticipation of the NBA All-Star 2012 game coming up on Sunday, Feb. 26. NBA All-Star Balloting by Sprint allows sports fans to select their favorite players as starters for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game by voting on NBA.com and through mobile devices. The NBA All-Star ballot lists 120 players – 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences – with 24 guards, 24 forwards, and 12 centers from each conference comprising the list.
And as Sager, the moderator of the celebration, was quick to note, this game should be a particularly exciting one for the Orlando Magic, since they’re playing on their home turf.
“It will be special to be an All-Star here in Orlando to my home crowd,” said Nelson, an Orlando Magic Guard. “We’re just looking forward to it.”
Fellow Orlando Magic Guard Richardson agreed, saying that a month before the game, “The excitement is great, and the energy in the crowd.”
Sager had some fun noting Richardson’s reputation for jumping above the basket and shooting down.
“Do you still dunk like that?” Sager asked, and Richardson laughed and said, “No, I guess I missed the last game.”
Howard, an Orlando Magic center, said he was also eager to see the results of the All-Star balloting.
“It’s a great experience to have millions of fans around the world vote for you,” Howard said. “It’s great. You look on TV and see all the people who have voted for you, and now on Twitter and Facebook, you can see it, too.”
“After all the talk, after all the b.s. about other teams, what does it feel like to have it here in your home city?” Sager asked.
“It’s just great for our city,” Howard said. “Just to have it here in Orlando, it will be big for our city.”
Orlando Magic Assistant Coach Patrick Ewing noted that the first and only other time that the Magic hosted the All-Star game was in 1992 in the Orlando Arena, the Magic’s previous home arena.
“It was a great game, a great team … a lot of fun, a lot of enthusiasm,” Ewing said. “The city of Orlando opened their arms and let us in. The city has changed so much, it’s grown a lot and now you have this great arena.”
Alex Martins, chief executive officer of the Orlando Magic, urged fans to start voting as soon as possible, as he did today using a mobile phone.
“We hope Orlando Magic fans turn out the vote, starting today,” Martins said.
“Today, the balloting actually begins,” Sager said, adding that people could vote by logging on to NBA.com, where “balloting is available in 16 different languages, and ends on midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 31.”
And the balloting, after all, is just a prelude to the game itself.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” Howard said, “and it’s going to be a fine year.”
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