As Magic prep for Lakers, Smith must wonder what could have been
At every Orlando Magic home game you can find Magic general manager Otis Smith standing in the tunnel behind the Orlando bench. Generally speaking, he's not speaking.
He stands silently, arms crossed, face unmoving and analyzing every move on the court. But as he lurks in the shadows of the Amway Center, you sometimes have to wonder what Smith is really thinking.
Smith is a man of few words and fewer regrets; self-assurance seeps from his every pore. But as the Magic prepare to take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon, he has to be able to see that his team has taken a step back, if not two, since facing the same Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals.
And at least a small part of him has to think it's his fault.
Just two seasons ago, Smith's Magic won 59 regular-season games, earning them the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. After shaking off Philadelphia in the first round, Orlando overcame a seemingly insurmountable 3-2 deficit to eliminate the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics on their own home floor.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Magic easily dispatched LeBron James and the top-seeded Cavs, setting up an unlikely NBA Finals pairing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was Hollywood vs. Disney World, and most gave the Magic a slim chance, if any, to top the legendary Lakers for the franchise's first NBA title. In the end, the experts were right. Los Angeles won the series in five games, and Kobe Bryant celebrated his fourth championship