“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
-Peter Finch as Howard Beale in Network
That’s it. I’m fed up!
I have been a die-hard Orlando Magic fan for years, supporting the team through thick and thin… but these days, even I have seen enough.
The Magic have now dropped five of their last six games, in two of which they flirted with the franchise history low in scoring. Over their last five losses, they’re averaging 72 points and are getting beaten by a highly uncompetitive 18 a game. Keep in mind this was a franchise that made the NBA Finals only three seasons ago. At this rate, they’ll be lucky to contend at all.
Now usually here at SportsChump, we generally just point out a few revelations that others might not have thought of yet. Not this time.
This time, we’re going hardcore. Take no prisoners.
Here are a few bold, house-cleaning instructions on how to make the Orlando Magic relevant again, because they sure as heck-fire aren’t right now.
1 – TRADE DWIGHT
That’s right. I said it. It needed to be said. Since the end of last season, I’ve heard Dwight complain about how he wants to be traded here or would like to be traded there, which begs the question, if he wants to play with Deron Williams so badly, why doesn’t Orlando just trade for Deron Williams? Here’s an idea. Get rid of your players who suck, aka all of them, and build a team around Dwight, Deron and Stephen Jackson, who Dwight also allegedly wants to play with.
Or fuck it, trade Dwight to Chicago but play hard ball. In return, demand Joakim Noah, who could clearly sell tickets here in Florida, and either Carlos Boozer (who I’m not crazy about but at least that’s a solid 4-5 combination) or Luol Deng (who I’m also not crazy about either because he’s injury prone, but at least he can score, which no Magic player other than Dwight can do consistently). Either way, at least that will get the Dwighning far enough away from my general vicinity.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of players out there that don’t shoot 9-for-their-last -28 (32%) from the free throw line. If Dwight’s really that unhappy, get what you can for him and tell him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out.
2 – FIRE STAN VAN GUNDY
Look, I like Stan. My personal policy is never to hate a coach who once brought a team of mine to the promised land. They get a lifetime pass. That’s why I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Lon Kruger.
But Stan Van Gundy has clearly lost control of this situation and has reached deer-in-the-headlights status. Every post-game comment from his starting center mentions a player he’d rather play with or a place he’d rather be. If I’m Stan, I go all Gene Hackman-Hoosiers on Dwight, benching him, starting only four players and telling the ref “My team is on the floor.”
Here’s more food for thought if you’re opposed to firing Stan Van. Glen “Big Baby” Davis was a far better player under Doc Rivers than he is now under Stan Van Gundy. Furthermore, Brandon Bass, who now plays under Doc Rivers is a better player now than he was in Orlando.
I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.
3 – FIRE OTIS SMITH
Need I really say more? Why is Orlando so loyal to players who only played three years in a Magic uniform? Smith wasn’t even that good as a player, he’s far worse as a general manager.
I thought it was bad when John Gabriel was making personnel decisions. You remember John Gabriel, don’t you? The guy that drafted Geert Hammink, Brooks Thompson, Rodney Dent, David Vaughn, Brian Evans, Amal McCaskill, Johnny Taylor and Eric Washington all within a four-year period. Between 1993 and 2000, Orlando Magic draft picks read like a who’s who of suck.
But since Smith took over in 2006, Brooks Thompson would be a refreshing change. Smith didn’t re-sign Hedo Turkoglu the year after he helped get them to the Finals, but rather signed him two years later (and more importantly two years older) to a bloated contract. Smith is also single-handedly responsible for bringing in Gilbert Arenas (no longer on their roster) after he was essentially ostracized from the league (by everyone but Smith, obviously) for bringing a handgun into the locker room, then joking about it publicly. The Lakers won’t even sign Arenas to the league minimum but the Magic signed him for an ungodly amount, then summarily waived him.
4 – GUT THE ROSTER
This team is currently comprised of more retreads than a road-side tire shop. The Magic play Hedo Turkoglu (4 teams), Chris Duhon (3 teams), Larry Hughes (8 teams), Quentin Richardson (5 teams) and Jason Richardson (4 teams) who just can’t seem to get along. Since we’re cleaning house, might I suggest selling these guys for pennies on the dollar and hoping they can even get THAT much in return.
5 – RESOLVE YOUR JAMEER SITUATION
Magic fans celebrated the day Orlando “stole” Jameer Nelson, the St. Joe’s standout point guard, in the second round of the 2004 draft. Eight years later, we’re still trying to determine whether he’s the point guard that can bring this team a championship. Newsflash! If you don’t know the answer by now, then he’s not.
6 – MAKE ORLANDO MARKETABLE
I never understood why more NBA players don’t want to play in Orlando. It’s a fun town, the weather is fabulous, there’s no state income tax and their arena still has that new car smell.
I’ve also wondered why no Magic player has ever signed a huge, marketing deal with Walt Disney World, which is only about twenty miles away from Amway. Wouldn’t that be the end-all, be-all of endorsement deals? That’d make Nike and Reebok deals look like drops in the bucket.
I know Orlando’s not Los Angeles, Miami or New York but it has to be a hell of a lot more fun than Detroit or Oklahoma City.
I guess the bottom line here is… the Magic need to be proactive. The team is wallowing in misery, playing the worst basketball it’s played in years. It’s time to shit or get off the pot. Do what you need to do to get quality players who actually want to play for your team, in your city. If you don’t know who that is, then fire your scouts and find someone who does.