I woke up to news the other morning that the Orlando Magic had traded for Shabazz Napier.
Shortly thereafter, I Tweeted “As an Orlando Magic fan, someone other than Shabazz Napier’s mom tell me why I’m supposed to be excited about acquiring Shabazz Napier.”
How I long for the days when the team I rooted for was relevant.
The NBA’s Eastern Conference is piss-poor. Compared to the teams that play out West, well, let’s just say there is no comparison. The New Orleans Pelicans, led by Anthony Davis, scratched and clawed their way to the West’s eighth seed last year. They finished eight games over .500. The Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs as an eighth seed in the East. They finished the season at a paltry 38-44.
The Orlando Magic finished another 13 games behind Brooklyn which is why there is such a clamoring for revamping the NBA playoffs.
There was a time in recent history, two times actually, when the Magic were bad ass. Their first run to the NBA Finals featured guys like Shaq, Nick Anderson, Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant and Dennis Scott. They made it all the way to the Finals before losing to the Houston Rockets.
Orlando’s second run at glory featured Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. That team once again lost in the Finals, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers. Even in between those years, the Magic put forth competitive teams mostly with the help of Tracy McGrady.
The times, they are a changing. Not a single link to those winning ways remains. And it makes it difficult to cheer for.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I wrote a post about bandwagon fans. They’re the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low. How dare some fan come along and enjoy a championship I waited a lifetime for.
But I’m starting to see things in a different light. Why suffer when you don’t have to? Losing sucks. These days, so does being a Magic fan.
Years ago, there wasn’t a minute of Magic basketball I’d miss. I haven’t seen a complete game of theirs in years. I no longer live in Orlando so I’m a bit distanced but I can barely name their starting lineup. It’s a lie to even call myself a fan.
Not long ago, the Magic named Rob Hennigan as their general manager. This guy was supposed to be cut from the Spurs and Thunder cloth, both organizations for which he worked and had tremendous success. Hennigan was supposed to make competitors out of the Magic. The three years he’s been in Orlando, the Magic have won 20, 23 and 25 games. At that rate, they’ll make the post-season again in 2025.
There once was a time when playing in Orlando meant you were playing for a young upstart team that challenged the established greatness of others. On their first run to the Finals, they beat Michael Jordan’s Bulls. In their second run, they beat LeBron’s Cavs.
Those are both distant memories.
I’m not disillusioned enough to think that anyone can topple a LeBron-led team in the East these days but the Magic aren’t even making a run at it. They’re just plain old bad. They recently gave Tobias Harris $64 million for four years. Harris averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds last year. Those numbers don’t exactly strike fear into the heart of opponents. Nor does Harris scream franchise player. The Magic also have Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. These four players combined don’t have the league experience of Kevin Garnett. The Magic’s lone twinkle might be that of Croatian Mario Hezonja who turned heads by dunking on a few people in the summer leagues. He’s going to have to do more than that if this team wants to even sniff the playoffs.
Something has gone wrong with the culture in Orlando. The town, team and brand new arena should be an easy sell. There once was a time when players wanted to play there. Now signing a top quality free agent seems impossible. The Magic are so far from being competitive, it’d be a miracle if anyone wanted to play there at all.
The Magic will once again suffer through a season of irrelevance. They’ll have some highlights here and there but are going to have to do more than roll out a bunch of 23-year olds to win ballgames. Where’s the veteran presence? Where is the twenty-five points a night guy, night in, night out?
I just want to watch good basketball and Orlando isn’t holding up its part of the bargain. I’m hoping Harris and company can live up to the promise their contracts. If not, it will be more than just one more irrelevant season that Magic fans suffer.
Shabazz Napier’s stats are abysmal and Magic GM Alex Martens must be a real @ss if he believes the acquisition of the player will lead to anything meaningful for the franchise. In 2016 the NBA cap will be at an all time high but the roster won’t be good enough to compete within their division much less the conference. Not only that what is Scottt Skiles meant to bring to the franchise at this juncture ?
I actually don’t mind the Skiles hire, Al.
He has roots to the organization, was a bulldog as a player and got a bad rap as head coach. The guy won in Phoenix, won in Chicago and won in Milwaukee. Who the hell wins in Milwaukee?
Here’s hoping he gets his team to play as hard as he did.
The talent has to be there first. What talent has the Magic now got on their current roster much less among their affiliate at the D League Level ? What are you buying into , solely Scott Skiles ? Have you even taken a look at the team’s stats last season much less their draft of 2015 ?
Lol so take it we’re not going to a magic game year and don’t get the white man Ebola?
The only Magic in Orlando is the ability to make stars leave.
Hey Orlando…With your next draft pick, please get another franchise center to groom for the Lakers. Thanks.
I agree about the talent part, Al, which is why I put a lot of this blame on the organization.
Oh no, we’ll definitely check out a game this year. I’ll go take a look to see how good/bad this team is in person.
Just get your shots beforehand.
That’s the worst part, Bleed.
I get wanting to play for the Lakers. I don’t get why they have to be a farm team for ’em.
I think Vegas has them as one of the worst teams in the league this year.
What? Orlando has an NBA franchise? Kidding. Maybe they should sign Goofy as their 6th man, Mickey as their ball boy and Pluto as the team mascot. Better yet, have Disney build an arena at the amusement park and at least attendance will go up from foreigners who are visiting and say WTH, let’s cool off and drink a beer while watching this thing call basketball. Maybe that could draw some real free agents whose kids say “Dad – go play for the Magic. Then I get to free admission to the park every home game.”
With Disney being front and center in Central Florida, I never understood why more Magic players didn’t look to them for marketing dollars.
Or perhaps it’s that Disney is so squeaky clean, they don’t need the NBA to help them attract people to their park.
You better believe that Disney doesn’t need the Magic for marketing, but you would think that the Magic would try to jump on their coat-tails. Not being a big-time marketer, my guess would be that Disney would charge the Magic for any publicity rather than the other way around.
Disney is so careful with their marketing, Moose, and rightfully so that I’m surprised there are still any damn ESPN broadcasters on the air.
I think we’re all waiting for the day they ban Berman.
In a recent article about the better “youth core” NBA teams and how they project out three years from now this is what Brad Doolittle from ESPN.com had to offer – “Orlando’s talent is well stocked at every position, which gives new coach Scott Skiles a lot of options when it comes to forging his key units going forward. We know he’ll have a defensive group as one of his preferred lineups, and the Magic have the versatility and athleticism to make a major leap on that end this season.” Again, this was in reference to teams that mostly skew young and how they look to be set up for the next three years or so.
Kevin Pelton from ESPN.com on the total offseason moves they made or did not make – “The biggest decision Orlando made was hiring Scott Skiles as head coach, a move that signals the Magic are planning to compete whether their young core is ready or not. Orlando added some much-needed shooting by drafting Hezonja and signing Watson to a reasonable three-year, $15 million contract. But replacing the promising O’Quinn with journeyman Smith is puzzling, given O’Quinn will make slightly less money this season and has been the more productive of the two players. Ultimately, Skiles’ ability to mold the Magic’s young talent into a winning unit will be the measure of this offseason.”
Bottom line. Ugly. Orlando, like several other teams, are in that “tank the years ahead or go for the 8th seeds” mode…even in the lesser East. You know what kind of circus tent has been set up in Philadelphia in the last few years so I certainly understand what Orlando is going through. The 76ers have been irrelevant for a long, long time. People here are still replaying games from when Allen Iverson was on the roster for entertainment. I fondly recall the time when the Magic were relevant but God…that was also so long ago.
amen to that – maybe one day he’ll go rumblin, stumblin, bumblin out the door along with a few more of those talking heads. On a related note – waiting to see where / when / how Cowherd shows up. He’s a gasbag but at least he’s not a sycophant 24/7.
I’ll tell you what.
I’ll bet you a drink that Philly finishes with a better record this season than Orlando.
And for the record, I’d take Jahlil Okafor over any player the Magic currently have on their roster and he hasn’t played a game in the league yet.
I’m actually one of the few on here that liked Cowherd, Moose.
I’d even go so far as to say I listened to his show more than anyone else.
I’ll have my take up on him eventually, just putting some thoughts together on the whole ordeal.
My understanding is that he’s already got a gig. He’ll be starting with Fox this fall.
And I’ll probably be listening.
Me too on the Herd. I was scared I’d get crucified if I admitted that I listen when I get a chance. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go Olberman on us.
I’d actually watch both of them, Moose.
But then again, I’ll watch most anything.
I don’t do much Boomer and Carton though. Don’t do much Dan Patrick either although Dub thinks I’m crazy for that… and for basically all of the above.
Chris, you are on with that bet. You are right about Okafor though. And for the record I used to listen to Colin all the time but kind of thought he fell into that “ESPN say what will get the masses” outraged trap in recent years….instead of straight shooting albeit somewhat less controversial takes on occasion. I think he’ll do well at Fox and I will give him another listen, Always root for anyone who exits “The Worldwide Leader.”
I’ll have my thoughts on Cowherd and company up soon. I think everyone will get a kick out of it.
I look forward to our wager. I mean, the Sixers can’t go another season tanking, can they? How many draft picks are they looking to compile already?
They have the young talent. Let’s see what they can do with it. Finally.