Honestly, I’d like to be able to write an entire column on the Winter Olympics but that is going to be awfully hard since the “Olympics that Bryant Gumbel won’t watch” have been no higher on my TV viewing food chain than Second TV for nearly the entirety of their existence thus far. In my assessment, that is the perfect spot for the Winter Olympics anyway. I certainly don’t care enough about these Olympics to clog up my main TV with the various exploits of these “Snolympians” ( I made that up myself, thank you) and the Olympic coverage switches from event to event far too quickly for Picture-in-Picture to be of anything other than mild assistance. That’s why the second TV is perfect for the Winter Olympics, it allows you to occasionally glance at the action on NBC and (when necessary) quickly switch your main TV to an event of personal interest (Snow Cross, Skeleton, and Ski Jump to name a few personal favorites) at the Olympics. As a result of this approach to Winter Olympic viewing, you’ll have to go elsewhere if you’re looking for a breakdown of tonight’s Davis-Hedrick Speed Skating Battle Royale or any other ridiculously overhyped event that approximately 2% of the world’s population is even aware of, for that matter. Sorry to disappoint you.
"Have you been watching the Winter Olympics Bri?"
"Oh hell naw G! Have seen the utter paucity of brothas in that event? That shit is wack!"
"Word is bond!"
While I’m disappointing people in this space, I figure I might as well stay consistent. It’s due to this (and a tremendous lack of work ethic) that I’m going to delay any Darko related posts until later in the week when (hopefully) the Magic have decided on a proper destination for Steve Francis and I’ve had at least one chance to see Darko in action. While I have seen Darko play in the past, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t feel like the 10 combined minutes of garbage time that I’ve seen of him is enough material with which to dissect Darko’s game and therefore accurately predict his future success/failure (he is only 20). As you can probably guess, my initial feelings aren’t very “warm and fuzzy” especially when you consider that the Magic gave up $8.2 million in cap relief (better known as Kelvin Cato) and a lottery pick that is only lottery protected through the Top 5 in 2007. However, I’m going to hold off on blasting the continued ineptitude of the Orlando front office until I’ve had a little time to at least see the skills that Darko brings to the table. While I don’t expect him to come out and start dunking on Drew Gooden tonight (that would be awesome though), I would hope that the Magic give Darko enough time and touches to allow him the opportunity to display the multitude of skills that we’ve heard everybody, including his former teammates rave about for so long now.
Throughout his first two and a half years in Detroit, Darko repeatedly asked for an opportunity to play whether in Detroit or elsewhere. Considering the current state of the franchise, the Magic would be doing both themselves and Darko an enormous disservice if they attempted to hold him out of action while he acclimates himself to a new city and system. Both entities are in serious need of an infusion of excitement and promise, and the future (both short and long term) of both depends heavily on the outcome of this trade. What Darko needs right now is to feel wanted and valuable, to feel as though he is a real NBA player. Not just some guy who collects a paycheck and listens to fans heckle him endlessly as he rots on the bench. Conversely, what the Magic needs now is something to build toward, a sense of renewed optimism among the fan base that the organization is headed in the right direction and that brighter days are ahead. These two need each other. It is for these reasons that the Magic must get Darko on the court as soon as possible, and why the coaching staff must give him consistent minutes (25+) for the remaining 30 or so games of the season. Though the playoffs are still a remote & technical possibility, the Magic staff would be extremely unwise to believe that the playoffs were anything more than a pipe dream. Furthermore, using the notion of contending for the playoffs as a means to justify not integrating Darko into the lineup immediately, due to his relative lack of familiarity with the Magic’s system, would be completely unforgivable, and appropriately in line with the Magic’s normal managerial procedures. While conventional wisdom says that the Magic should hold off on giving Darko too many minutes initially because he doesn't know any of the plays at this point. I’m also quite sure that the same could be said for Mario Kasun, and that doesn’t seem to stop him from getting his heavily tattooed ass a measurable amount of playing time from night to night. Hopefully, I'll see enough of Darko tonight to report back tomorrow with some (at least) minimal insight on the man Rasheed Wallace has dubbed the "Serbian Gangsta".