In an Orlando Magic offseason filled with secret meetings with general-manager candidates, potential coaches and a disgruntled superstar, one of the most important discussions started inside the Our Mother of Good Counsel gym in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
There, in early August, newly hired coach Jacque Vaughn and point guard Jameer Nelson started their working relationship. Vaughn watched Nelson train for the upcoming season, and after Nelson finished, the duo drove into downtown Philadelphia for dinner at a Del Frisco's steak house.
"I asked questions," Nelson remembered. "He answered them. He asked questions, and I had to answer. So, right then and there, I could tell we were going to get off to a good start."
The relationship between Vaughn and Nelson — brand-new head coach and veteran point guard — needs to work for the rebuilding Magic. Orlando likely will begin the regular season with three rookies and four second-year players on its roster, and more than ever, the team needs Nelson to be a leader.
In the best-case scenario, Nelson will serve as an extension of Vaughn on the court and as an empathetic big brother off the court when the squad endures rough games.
Those few hours in Pennsylvania might have built the foundation.
"We just opened the lines of communication," Vaughn recalled.
They share much in common.
Vaughn is 37 years old. Nelson is 30.
Vaughn played four seasons of college ball. Nelson played four seasons.
Vaughn lasted 12 seasons in the NBA, even though he was never the most athletically gifted person on the court. Nelson already has played eight NBA seasons, even though he faces a height disadvantage in most games.
And, of course, they are point guards: one retired, the other still playing.
Nelson has said he wanted Stan Van Gundy to remain as the Magic's coach, and he credits Van Gundy for helping him develop as a player.
But, at the same time, Nelson sounds excited about Vaughn.
Vaughn will give Nelson freedom to run the offense. Although it's dangerous to draw too many conclusions from a preseason opener, Nelson noted that Vaughn didn't call a single play in last Sunday's exhibition in Mexico City.
"Things were different, and a lot of times for me, different is good," Nelson said. "I've learned a lot from the people in the past. But everything in basketball and in life is a steppingstone, and I'll use what I learned to my ability. I can tell that Jacque trusts me.
"I'm not saying that Stan didn't trust me, just that these coaches manage the game different."
Nelson has reason to feel rejuvenated. Dwight Howard's stay-or-go saga took a toll on Nelson because Howard made it known publicly that he wanted to play alongside Deron Williams or Chris Paul, which seemed like an indirect slight at Nelson.
Meanwhile, in his role as team co-captain, Nelson occasionally brought teammates' concerns about Howard's situation to Howard in an effort to bring the roster together. That didn't always sit well with Howard, but it helped develop Nelson as a leader.
Vaughn hasn't named a captain or captains yet, but Nelson's importance was solidified when the team re-signed him to a three-year deal believed to be worth at least $16 million over the first two seasons.
Nelson seemed to set the tone in the preseason opener by delivering two pinpoint passes and by diving on the floor for a loose ball.
"My job is to lead," Nelson said.
He and Vaughn agree on that, for sure.