The 2011-12 NBA season has come a close for the Orlando Magic. It was the longest, short season in franchise history.
If someone were to offer a screenplay depicting the season’s events to the Soap Opera Network, it would be roundly rejected for lack of believability.
Now, as the post-season arrives, big decisions are in the offing for the franchise. Will the three major players in this year’s drama, Dwight Howard, Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith, still be around when the team tips off next fall?
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I’m not here to offer up any predictions. Events will play out over the next few weeks and months, however they play out. Ownership, and the individuals involved, will decide if one, two or all of the “big three” will continue to work for the Orlando Magic.
And that’s not the point, really.
The point is this: Regardless of who is still in Orlando and who is not, the Magic will go on, and history tells us the franchise will do just fine.
Since the DeVos family purchased the ballclub in 1991-92, the third year of its existence, the team has had extraordinary success, winning 54% of its games, tied for the highest winning percentage of all Eastern Conference teams.
The Magic has had seven 50-plus win seasons, won two Eastern Conference titles, and reached the playoffs in 14 of the last 19 years.
It is led by an ownership that has proven it is willing to spend money. Whatever it takes. To win a championship. Coaches like that. So do general managers.
It plays its games in arguably the finest facility in North America. (The Amway Center is a finalist for Sports Facility of the Year by the Sports Business Journal) Players are no different that anybody else. They like going to work in a world-class facility.
It is located in Florida. Great weather. No state taxes. Enough said.
It is an organization that has invested enormously in Orlando, (the Magic pumps about $2 million/year into the local community) has been a good corporate citizen, and has accumulated a tremendous amount of equity among residents in central Florida.
Players and coaches like that about the Magic. They like Orlando. Many stay here after their playing careers are over. Some play for other teams, but live here in the off-season.
If Dwight Howard decides he’d rather play somewhere else, and the Magic decide to trade him before the start of next season (Magic CEO Alex Martins says the team will not endure another year of “will he stay or will he go.”), the Magic will formulate new plans to put a winning team on the floor.
If general manager Otis Smith is part of those plans, he’ll do the best he can, as I believe he as been doing for the last 8 years. All of Otis’s moves, good and bad, have been done with one goal in mind, to bring an NBA title to Orlando. That over-arching goal will remain the focus of the organization with or without him.
If Stan Van Gundy is still the coach, he will continue to try to win not just every game, but every possession within every game. He has proven to be an outstanding coach.
If he is not still with the Magic I am certain he will have no difficulty locating future employment whenever he decides to return to coaching.
I am equally certain, for all of the reasons mentioned above, that qualified coaching candidates will line up to take his vacated spot in Orlando.
In short, there will no doubt be a final act or two in this season’s Magic Drama, but in the end, regardless of how it plays out for the lead actors, the theater will not just keep its doors open. It will thrive.