Jameer Nelson: Why He Should Have Stayed on the Bench

Derek PattiContributor IJune 17, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 28: Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic gestures towards teammate Rashard Lewis #9 during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009 Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 28, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

First off, let me say that I am a HUGE Orlando Magic fan, so for me to write such a story is out of pure love of my team. Although the title comes across as negative towards the team, I am still a basketball fan and know when something works...and when it doesn't.

Prior to Game One of the NBA Finals, word started to spread that Nelson could be making a comeback to the Magic in time to help them win their first championship. At first read, that was GREAT news. But, after thinking about it a little bit longer and analyzing what that would mean for the team, I started to realize that it doesn't sound as good as it should.

Let me explain.

The Orlando Magic entered the playoffs as a team only supposed to meet Boston in round two, and fall in five to seven games to the mighty Celtics! (Some people thought Philly would upset us) After winning Game Seven in Boston, which the Celtics' record in Game Seven's at home was 32-0, the Magic were STILL underdogs entering the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cleveland LeBrons were up next for the Magic. Of course, just about every analyst picked the Cavs to win this series...other than the one and only Charles Barkley. And, Charles was right. The Orlando Magic won the East in six games, showing the world they were not some bogus team to be counted out.

And this is where I continue my story.

Like I said before, near the end of the ECF, reports were out that Nelson would possibly making a comeback for the Finals. This was one of the biggest mistakes for the Orlando Magic for a couple reasons.

Reason No. 1: Jameer Nelson has sat for four months on the bench in a suit. How can a coach honestly feel like a player that has sat for four months prior to your team entering the NBA Finals suit up and play after maybe two weeks of practice? The player could not possibly be in game shape, especially in Finals game shape.

Reason No. 2: The Orlando Magic were playing so well together, upsetting both Boston and Cleveland on their way to their second NBA Finals appearance, first since 1995. Interim starting point guard Rafer Alston was playing great, guiding the team to Finals with Anthony Johnson filling in for him off the bench. Our guard play was quite consistent and things were going well. Why would you want to ruin the rotation that had worked for us throughout the entire playoffs?

Reason No. 3: The Magic teammates, as well as Nelson, did not have complete trust in his ability on the court. This makes total sense, going back to my first reason. After not playing in an actual game for four months, the confidence is not automatically back in oneself to make big shots when needed. His teammates knew this as well, seeing that he did not receive the ball back after bringing it up court and setting up a play.

Jameer Nelson coming back for the Orlando Magic was something that Magic fans liked and disliked at the same time. Having your All-Star point guard back in your rotation is great news. Having your All-Star point guard back in your rotation at 70 percent is not so great.

What I am trying to say is that Jameer Nelson coming back for the Magic in such a pivotal series was not right for the team or for him. I think he was being impatient and felt a little left out with all the success we were having without him in the rotation. Although I like Nelson as our starting point guard, I think he should have stuck it out like a true team player and stayed on the bench until next season. There was more hurt than help with his return.