No doubt LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade all playing for the Miami Heat changes the outlook for the upcoming NBA season.
Two and a half superstars on one team, especially those at the level of James and Wade makes a difference.
The new Miami Dream Team also makes things much harder for other teams in the Eastern Conference in particular, and for the Los Angeles Lakers from a bird’s eye view.
One man in particular, Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith may be suffering as much as Dan Gilbert at the moment. Maybe not— one of Smith’s largest investments didn’t lose $140 million in value last week.
But in terms of public doubt, and criticism, Smith has found himself as enemy number one in Orlando.
For some reason Orlando fans think Smith really is a magician. Magic fans want a big deal, and they want a big deal done now.
This attitude leaves me perplexed.
But if I had been listening to critiques of our Magic fan base rather than defending them, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all.
“We need another super star”, “Carter should be traded” and “Rashard Lewis’ contract was a mistake” hit the top of the I’m an Ignorant Basketball Fan Top Ten since James made his announcement.
Just like Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland faithful, fans in the City Beautiful have short memories. Before Otis arrived, we had Steve Francis as a starting point guard. The Magic habitually exited the playoffs by the end of the first or second round. And more often than not, the team lost it’s best players, to other more competitive teams.
Yet, Magic fans feel like the team needs to be chasing more high profile free agents. Here we get our first glimpse into the basketball ignorance of my home team’s fans.
Do Magic fans not understand how the salary cap works? In order to sign a big name free agent, a team needs space under the cap. That’s why New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Miami all dumped every breathing soul on their respective rosters. The teams needed to create cap space to sign a big name.
As Magic fans eye the Miami Heat with envy, take a look at the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks. Tell yourself you want to be in that position right now.
I can tell you Magic ownership doesn’t, not with a brand new arena being built for next season. If you think the Devos family would approve that risk, in this off-season, you need a quick course in Business 101.
As for Lewis’ contract being a mistake, how many times did Kevin Garnett win games for the Boston Celtics during the Eastern Conference Finals? The simple answer, none.
Lewis played good defense against the All-Star forward. He kept the damage caused by KG to a minimum. That my friend stands as an example of good defense. But Lewis didn’t score enough points? The entire Magic team failed to score enough points.
Maybe the problem exists with the offensive scheme, not the roster itself. Smith mentioned in an interview the fact he has plenty of bodies at the four position, “they need to play”. We’ll leave that can of worms for another post.
Paul Pierce suffered on the offensive end against the Cavs. That happens when you play hard defense, against a really good offensive player. Why would Lewis be any different?
Truth be told, Lewis got stuck with some of the toughest defensive assignments throughout the Magic’s playoff run.
Without Lewis in the lineup two seasons ago, there are no championship expectations in Orlando this past season.
And please, stop with the “bring Hedo back” rants. The presence of Garnett, improved bench play and Nate Robinson made the Celtics better than the Magic, not the absence of Hedo Turkoglu.
Let’s not forget that Dwight Howard became the only player on the court who could create his own shot. That segues into another hot button issue for Magic fans.
Our love for J.J. Redick represents another gem of an example, as to why Magic fans posses no basketball street cred.
Magic fans seem to believe that if Smith doesn’t sign Redick, the season will be lost. Earth to Magic Fan, J.J. Redick fills in well as a backup, but his weaknesses easily out weigh his strengths. And we’re still waiting for that “dagger” three point shooting we saw in Durham, NC.
Redick took seven years, and plenty of gym time, to get athletic enough to compete in the NBA. Unless the Magic put Howard in a Malone style offense, Redick provides little benefit to the team at over $6 million per year.
Which one of the Miami Super Trio will Redick cover in the playoffs? Let’s move on.
Magic fans must let go of our feeling of entitlement. Just because we went to the NBA Finals two years ago, does not mean we automatically get to go back. Championship teams usually take multiple shots at the ring before winning one. That goes for the Miami Heat as well by the way.
But as for Orlando, the team underwent drastic changes last offseason. The Los Angeles Lakers came back to the Finals against Boston, with almost the same team they had the previous year. The Boston Celtics entered the playoffs, with the same team that won the championship two years ago.
Championships don’t come easy. That’s why teams and fans revere them the way they do. It takes a really good team to win it all. The Big Three in Boston got it done in it’s first season. But former Orlando Magic head coach Doc Rivers coached that team. Again, moving on.
I wrote an article recently, admonishing Cavs fans to stop griping about James’ departure. I told one Cavs fan via Twitter, that Orlando lost it’s star player years ago, our city displayed a stronger gritt than Cleveland.
But suddenly, my home town lost its “rocks”. In the face of a stiff challenge, we’ve lived up to our most unflattering expectations.
We’re acting like the ignorant basketball fans, so many say we are, but I refused to believe we were.
Hey Orlando Fans, STFU. Root for your team.
Otherwise we just live in a warmer version of Cleveland.