The Orlando Magic-Miami Heat rivalry turned up a couple of notches Thursday night.
The rivalry always existed, partly due to the geographic locations of the two cities. In terms of the people in the state, Orlando has been somewhat the conservative opposite of the free wheeling South Florida lifestyle.
Things became more interesting, after Stan Van Gundy took the head coaching position in Orlando.
Now that Miami appears to have the upper hand, the Orlando Magic don’t appear ready to concede anything.
Magic general Manager Otis Smith said the strength in the league has not shifted– because Kobe still plays for the Lakers. He also commented to WESH 2 news, the local Orlando NBC affiliate, that LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat surprised him a little.
He felt James was “more of a competitor”, and that the “great ones” build their own team by choosing to “usually stay in one location.”
It’s what the GM should say. But it may have more to do with his franchise player Dwight Howard.
Howard will become a free agent in two seasons. By establishing the terms of greatness, maybe Smith hopes to influence his big man into believing leaving Orlando would hurt his legacy.
The defiant attitude permeated from Van Gundy as well. Prior to LeBron’s announcement, Stan described Chris Bosh as a “lap dog” for following Wade around. Makes me wonder if the Magic made a run at Bosh, and was denied.
To be sure, LeBron’s move will be good for the NBA. Teams like Boston, Chicago and Orlando now have a built in rivalry, due to the presence of the “Super Trio” in Miami.
Orlando will now have to prove they can beat the Heat, especially since they both reside in the NBA Eastern Conference Southeast Division.
Here’s to next season, and the promise it brings.