Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's been a long time...

Since Shaq left you. Actually since Shaq left me. Today is the tenth anniversary of the day that Shaquille O'Neal officially left the Magic Kingdom for the bright lights and bad movies of Hollywood. WOW. Has it really been that long since Shaq left Central Florida? I can still remember the billboards all over Orlando lambasting Shaq for being greedy and selfish, when he was simply making a move to a team with a far more competent front office (Jerry West anyone?) and a town with infinitely more resources for increasing Shaq's Q rating. It's tough to blame Shaq for that move when you consider some of the things that have gone down within the Magic franchise since his departure:

  • Penny Hardaway reveals himself to be a fragile little bitch (both emotionally and physically)
  • Dennis Scott proves himself to be certifiably crazy, much to the dismay of hundreds of attendees to his basketball camp.
  • Chuck Daly bails out on coaching in Orlando.
  • Penny Hardaway gets Brian Hill canned.
  • Penny reveals himself to be an even bigger bitch than anyone could have imagined, sans Shaq.
  • Magic GM John Gabriel drafts amazing talents like Brian Evans, Johnny Taylor, Geert Hammink, Jerryl Sasser, David Vaughan, Amal McCaskill & Brooks Thompson.
  • Grant Hill. Is a description really neccessary?
  • Gabriel is succeeded by the one GM who could have possibly made him look remotely competent, none other that Mr. Hockey himself, John Weisbrod.
  • Weisbrod is fired after less than a year of service.
  • The Magic draft Fran Vasquez who quickly resigns with his team in Spain rather than have to suffer the indignity of actually suiting up for Orlando.

Now, it hasn't been all bad times in Orlando since Shaq left. Remember back in 2003 when we were up on Detroit 3-1 in the first round? Oh wait, that's a bad example. Seriously though, their have been some good times. They just seem to be escaping me right now.

Filthy, just filthy...and I'm not talking about Shaq's shoes either.

What all this proves, besides the overwhelming ineptitude of the Magic franchise, is that Shaq was a step (or three) ahead of the rest of us and shouldn't be villified for leaving Orlando. Hell, if I'd have known what Shaq was clearly figuring out as Nick Anderson was busy pissing Game 1 of the 1994 Finals away at the foul line I'd probably have moved to star in shitty movies too.


Greg said...

I'm not going to hate Shaq anymore for leaving Orlando for LA. It still sucks though. I still think that team could have won a championship.

Here are some positives and negatives off the top of my head.

Positive: The "Heart-n-Hustle" play of Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace

Negative: The loss of Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace so Grant Hill could sign.

Positive: The signing of T-Mac

Negative: The awful trade of T-Mac

Negative: The Cuttino Mobley for Doug Christie trade

Positive: um...the new uniforms. They're much better

Positive: trading for Darko and Arroyo

Positive: the Jameer Nelson trade

Positive: the Dwight Howard pick

Negative: Acquiring Chauncey Billups and never playing him

Negative: not giving Nick Anderson a front office job. Sure, he blew those free throws but he was the first ever draft pick and a fan favorite. I still like him.

Mark said...

That "heart and hustle" team was probably my favorite Magic team since Shaq left. That whole team was prety much all guys making the vets minimum or young guys with rookie deals (Maggette). I'm convinced that's why it looked like Doc could coach. He HAD to play weird disjointed lineups with that team. He ahd no choice but to constantly throw shit against the wall and see what stuck.

Here's a negative to add along the lines of this squad: Giving up Ben Wallace int eh sign and trade when (its been reported) that the Pistons would've taken John Amaechi in his stead. Amaechi was coming of a career year and the Magic knew he was lazy and unmotivated to continue to improve. Why they would willingly give up Wallace in that move ahs always boggled the mind.

Mark said...

I'm pretty much with you on all the posotives, uniforms included. They're a definite upgrade.

I also agree that Nick should get a nice cushy front office job. Did you ever read that articel in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about him last year? He was still broken up about those free throws and basically begged to be brought back into the fold in Orlando. I'm actually a little surprised that Otis Smith hasn't done something already.

It's nice to see Sport Guy blowing up Anderson lately in a couple of his columns. Everybody forgets that Nick was right on the edge of becoming and All-Star when he missed those FTs and his career fell apart. Up to that point he'd risen to just a notch below the Mitch Richmond's of the NBA landscape. When he missed those FTs he just stopped having the desire to take the ball to the hoop.

By the way, did you get that fax Grreg?

Greg said...

I did get the fax and I'm faxing it to them right now.

Wow, I didn't know that about John Amaechi. I remember he viewed the NBA as a means to pay for medical school or something like that.

There was this interview with Shaq where he was bragging that he was "not just a basketball player, but also a rapper and an actor". All I could think of was "right...and if it weren't for the NBA, you'd be the world's biggest garbageman".

Mark said...

The Amaechi thing has always infuriated me. Sure, Wallace wasn't exactly what he became in Detroit when he was traded but anybody who watched with even a passing interest that year could see that he was developing into a dominating force inside. In the end, I think they were too caught up in Amaechis "skill" advantage offensively.

Mark said...

So who's in for you guys? You, Jerry and TJ?

I spoke to Vitas yesterday and he's making our reservation today too. Right now it's just him and I but we should have Socks and (possibly) Berto as well.

Greg said...

Right now, it's just me, TJ and Jerry. I'll fax the form in with them and if we have to change it, that's no problem.

Mark said...

They're pretty cool about changing names if you call ahead. You can also leave a name or two blank and have them fill it on when you arrive. At least they let me do that two years ago.

CFunk28 said...

July 18, 2016, Shaq returns to Orlando as the new owner of the Magic. At least you've got Dwight Howard to look forward to until then.

Mark said...

You should be careful Calvin. You might be writing a column similar to this in, I don't know, say, three years? That's right. I said it. Jay-Z steals LeBron. Dwight wins a title. Cleveland still sucks.

Greg said...

Yeah Calvin. You've heard about the escalator clauses that basically double Lebron's endorsements if he plays for NY, LA or Chicago.

CFunk28 said...

Yeah, those escalator clauses scare the shit out of me. I've pretty much reserved myself to the fact that LeBron will leave eventually. I'm a Cleveland fan, its in the cards. He'll go the way of Ernest Byner or Joe Carter and win titles with another team. And the drought continues.

Mark said...

That will probably, no, definitely be the only time that anybody ever compares Ernest Byner to LeBron. Well done.

Greg said...

The quote on the last picture reminded me of one other thing about Shaq (and to another extent, AI) is that they signed shoe deals with Reebok. While I'm sure Reeboks are fine shoes, Reebok will ALWAYS be behind Nike (and now adidas) when it comes to marketing their top flight endorsers.

Shaq now has his "own" brand. It's available at Wal-Mart. I'm sure they're perfectly decent shoes but I wouldn't wear them.

Shaq didn't sign with Nike because they didn't kiss his ass enough. A former Nike employee/intern buddy of mine explained that each pro-athlete wants "his own shoe" and they don't care if it's with Nike or Dada (seriously, Dada, that's so fucking stupid). What these athletes don't realize is that they will be 1000 times more marketable just being in the Nike stable than if they had their own label with nobody.

It's like what Frank Sinatra told Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, "You can open for me at the Meadowlands or you can headline at the Tic-Toc Inn."

If Shaq went with Nike, he would have had the same type of deal that Charles Barkley had....and he would have been marketed much better than Reebok did.

Nike's doing the smart thing by spinning off brands like Jordan and Converse. That way they can sign LeBron, Carmelo and Wade AND convince all of them that they have their OWN shoe with each of them as the top dog of their respective labels. Nike maintains brand identity, spins off the Jordan brand and revitalizes a bankrupt Converse. Phil Knight is a fucking genius.

CFunk28 said...

Byner had a pretty good run w/ the Dirt Worshipers after "The Fumble". Typical Cleveland team move. Guy screws up once and they ship him out.

At least we didn't trade Ron Harper b/c he may have been hanging out w/ people who used Cocaine. Oh wait we did? For Danny Ferry? Oh God!!!

TJ said...

Just for fun, Danny Ferry's Basketball-Reference.com page:


Mark said...

Calvin may kill himself now. Nice work TJ.

TJ said...

Hang in there Calvin. At least the Indians are good.