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At one point Jameer Nelson was a constant as one of the better point guards in the NBA. The 2009 All-Star averaged more than seven assists per game in two seasons and was an excellent 3-point shooter before the long ball became mainstream.
Nelson spent 10 seasons in Orlando, directing the offense as the Magic reached the 2009 Finals.
Nelson, 37, sat out last season and is living in Pennsylvania with his family. He has one son who is going to play basketball at George Washington University, and three young daughters (13, 11 and 7 years old) who are still at home with him and his wife.
Life used to revolve around his NBA career, but he’s now able to be a family man doing things like taking his daughters around the country for their travel softball team.
“You play 14 years in the NBA and everything has been about you for that time,” Nelson told Amico Hoops. “I’m making sacrifices and doing things that I need to do for my family.”
Nelson has only missed one season, but it almost feels like he played in a different era.
Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist when Nelson’s career began. And today, players move from team to team every summer. But Nelson played for one team for a decade. That’s almost never the case now.
“I was always a guy that I wanted it to work where I was,” he said. “If it was hard, I was going to help try to get out of the rut that we were in.”
Those leadership qualities might have a lot to do with why people around basketball still ask for his guidance. There are high school kids, college kids, NBA players and coaches who reach out to him.
“I’m glad to be well-respect around the league,” he said.
Nelson is well-respected indeed, but he also has been underrated during his 14-year career. With the Magic, he was the starting point guard on a team that won 50 or more games four seasons in a row.
During those four seasons, he averaged a combined 13.3 points, 5.6 assists and shot 41 percent on threes. At 6-foot-0 tall and 190 pounds, he was always the little guy. But he made a big impact on the court.
“Everybody knew their roles, everybody knew Dwight (Howard) was going to get all the attention and we were all fine with that,” he said.
Nelson received his fair share of recognition too. He averaged a career-high 16.7 points and shot 45 percent on threes during the All-Star season of 2009.
Following his run with the Magic, Nelson spent time with the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons.
On top of being a family man, Nelson is looking to expand his basketball career outside of just playing the game. He is interested in coaching and broadcasting, as either a television studio analyst or in-game color commentator. He has already done some work for NBA Radio on Sirius XM and several radio stations in Los Angeles.
“I’m taking the opportunities as they come,” Nelson said. “I’m working toward the goal of getting on a (television) network. That’s the ultimate goal. I just want to continue to work; continue to practice, prepare and learn just like I did during my career as a basketball player.”
Mostly, Nelson just loves talking about the game of basketball.
“I think I can be a great TV personality,” he said. “I think I can be a great voice and kind of bridge that gap from player to an audience.”
None of this is to say Nelson has given up on the idea of playing. He is aware that his time in the NBA may be up, but he has stayed in great shape, basketball shape, and is ready to lace them up if the opportunity comes along.
“I know things to come to an end, but I’ve seen crazier things happen,” Nelson said. “If somebody calls, I’ll jump right back on that bike.”