Battle for #1

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Dwight Howard and his agent have made his case to the media that he should be Orlando's selection with the #1 overall draft pick. Not to be outdone, Emeka Okafor and his agent are now doing damage control. "At the end of the day," Okafor's agent Jeff Schwarz told The Orlando Sentinel, "they'll take Emeka."

Schwarz pointed out that Okafor's numbers coming out of college are better than Kenyon Martin's and Elton Brand's, both former overall #1 picks. Of course, Howard's numbers coming out of high school are probably better than Kwame Brown's were, so it's all a matter of picking the right comparisons. 

GM John Weisbrod, of course, says the Magic have not made up their mind. Nor should they. Okafor hasn't even worked out for them yet. He is expected to do so soon after the predraft camp finishes this week in Chicago.

Most importantly, Schwarz reiterated that Okafor's back is fine, and has been taken care of.

Orlando is expected to meet both Okafor and Howard in Chicago at the end of this week.

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Durward Buck ofThe Florida Ledger writes: Professional Athlete of the Year: Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic, who was the NBA scoring champion while playing for the league's worst team.Also nominated: Ray Lewis, Amare Stoudemire, Paul Edinger, James "Bubba" Stewart and Rachel Teske.

Robert MacLeod ofThe Canada Globe and Mail writes: In January of 1999, Billups was on the move again, winding up with the Denver Nuggets as part of a three-way trade that also involved the Minnesota Timberwolves. In February of 2000, the Nuggets dealt Billups to the Orlando Magic, who cut him.

Brian Schmitz ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: Responding to recent hoopla over high school phenom Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor's camp says that "at the end of the day," the Orlando Magic will select the UConn junior with the first pick in the June 24 NBA draft. "Orlando likes Emeka, and I believe they will pick Emeka," Okafor's LA-based agent, Jeff Schwartz, said Tuesday. "You just have to look at everything. Emeka has better numbers than Kenyon Martin and Elton Brand did coming out of college. The lottery [draft] is over and it's like, 'Who can play basketball now?' "At the end of the day, they'll take Emeka."