Nick Calathes grew up in Central Florida. As a kid, he played on teams affiliated with the Junior Magic and Florida Basketball & Volleyball Association, and he attended Orlando Magic games whenever he could. Even before he was a teenager, he'd play occasional youth-league games inside the Magic's old arena.
On Friday night, he fulfilled a lifelong dream: He stepped onto the Magic's home court as an NBA player.
With about 50 family members and friends in Amway Center's stands, Calathes played for the Memphis Grizzlies in a preseason exhibition against the Magic, entering the game with 53.8 seconds left in the first half.
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"I rooted for my hometown team, and I think it's obviously a dream come true to play in front of my family and play where I've lived my whole life," Calathes said. "So, it's exciting."
He finished with two points, five assists and no turnovers in 14 minutes.
Calathes is making the transition to the NBA after four seasons playing professionally overseas.
Calathes, a 24-year-old point guard, attended Lake Howell High and the University of Florida.
After his time at UF, Calathes played three seasons for Panathinaikos Athens in Greece. He spent last season with a Russian team called Lokomotiv Kuban.
The NBA game is different, obviously. The NBA has its three-second rule, which doesn't exist in Europe, and Calathes now has more space to create opportunities on offense.
And, of course, day-to-day life in the NBA is different, too. In Europe, for example, he and his teammates would spend hours in airports waiting for connecting flights. In the NBA, teams take direct flights from city to city on chartered jets.
"It takes awhile for guys who've played overseas" to acclimate, Grizzlies coach David Joerger said. "Certainly, for young guys, it's really, really hard. But having four years of playing over there at a high level, he's shown that he can play in the NBA.
"It does take about a year to get your feet on the ground and learn how the game is played and the athleticism and the way that the game is called. So I would go long on him. I see a lot of positive things for him."
Calathes isn't the only Memphis player making a transition this season.
Former UF star and Magic swingman Mike Miller has rejoined the Grizzlies after he played the last three seasons — and won a pair of NBA titles — with the Miami Heat.
In July, the Heat waived Miller, 33, via the amnesty provision to reduce their luxury-tax burden.
Miller signed with Memphis because he had played for the Grizzlies before and because the Grizzlies are title contenders.
"It's been really good," Miller said. "Knowing the community, knowing the organization a little bit, having a house there made the transition quite a bit easier."
• Magic forward Tobias Harris, who has a sore ankle, didn't play Friday. Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said Harris was able to play, but Vaughn said he decided to sit Harris to ensure Harris' ankle heals fully.
• Vaughn employed a starting lineup of Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Jason Maxiell and Nik Vucevic.
• Guard Doron Lamb didn't play. He's missed the entire preseason because of a sprained right ankle.
• The Magic on Friday auditioned another candidate for their in-game emcee job.
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