A sportswriter with imagination

Right now there are no sports going on anywhere, so there is virtually no sports writing. But this is when we need writers & reporters the most. So why isn’t there anything worth reading in the media? The truth is that most sports “journalists” are nothing without their VIP access & being spoon-fed information by the machinery.

I’m going to use three screenshots from ESPN.com, which were all taken on this publication date, to discuss & analyze their content. Let’s start with the NBA, which is supposed to be finishing it’s regular season and starting its play-offs in a few weeks.

Of course the NBA was the first major American sports league to shut down, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert test positive for COVID-19, only days after conspicuously wiping himself all over press corps tape recorders. He’s been in quarantine & all apologies since.

This was to be the “Kobe season” after Bryant’s tragic death in January. But now it’s the “coronavirus season.” This puts reality in its proper perspective, I say. Too many NBA-ers still want to try to finish the season, which is insane. Too many spoiled rich athletes don’t really understand what it takes to put on one single event, such as a NBA game.

Unless it’s the Lakers-Clippers, it involves one team traveling to another city, which means air travel, ground transportation & hotels. The players are taken care of by their handlers, so they don’t always appreciate the labor involved.

Once at the event, the arena needs service personnel of every type. Players need trainers, medical & coaching staff. The fans expect food & drink vendors, and clean facilities. You need engineers to design these wonderlands, and labor to build them. To maintain them, every skill set from electricians to janitors are essential, and they are needed in numbers.

How is the NBA going to get service personnel back to work under pandemic conditions? There is little-to-no testing for the workers, and no proper PPE. So what’s their incentive to risk their lives to restart these carnivals? I write about sports all the time, and honestly I’m fine without them for now. It’s one less beat for me to have to cover. The point is, I don’t miss them that much, and a lot of other people feel the same way.

If you want to crown a NBA champion in 2019-20, it will only be by fan debate. I don’t follow too closely anymore, but I thought Clippers were going to win it, defeating the Lakers in the Western finals, or something like that. As far as Kobe Bryant goes: he was an all-time basketball great, but his legacy pales in comparison to the importance of what humanity is facing with COVID-19.

The ESPN headlines for the NBA today are the same as yesterday, and the day before, etc. “No decisions until May according to commissioner Adam Silver.” “NBA is eyeing faster testing.” Some no-name Kentucky Freshman guard has declared for the upcoming NBA draft…

ESPN always broadcasts the NBA draft which was to be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. But now that’s a pipe dream, as this will have to shifted to a virtual event. Once again, how are you going to get service people to work without protection in a pandemic? They need PPE and hazard pay. The ruling classes scream in unison that this is not feasible. That’s going to be the stand-off. All reporting on the NBA draft & mock drafts don’t discuss these realities and their implications. Makes you wonder.

Coronavirus is changing everything today, and into the future. How are sports leagues going to get fans packed back into stadiums & arenas during a pandemic? I don’t want pay to go, do you? That’s the current unreality of the NBA and its media.

Above is ESPN’s MLB homepage today, with Jeff Passan being left to answer the title: Is it safe to start the MLB season in May? The answer is obviously no, but the current MLB proposal is a 4-and-1/2 month “biodome quarantine” for players, coaches and staff, with all games to be played in the Phoenix area. No contact with family & friends during the season, and no fans in the stadiums. Television, radio & internet broadcast only. I hope that makes sense to you, because it makes no sense to me.

MLB was force to shut down near the end of spring training, so what this comes down to is money, which is why such crazy ideas are being floated. The players are for it, only so they can get paid, Canceling the season means no player paychecks. That’s a lot of families that need to eat, especially for pre-arbitration players with league-minimum contracts. These are the vast majority of younger players which dominate MLB rosters today.

Of course, the minor leagues are cancelled too. MLB owners wanted to scale back MiLB, so here it is. Zero baseball. The truth is that there will be no MLB season in 2020. How these “guaranteed” contracts are to be paid out, will be a contentious labor issue– for sure. It’s still quiet on this front, only because it’s early.

Beyond that, how do organizations scout for amateur drafts beyond 2020, with no baseball being played anywhere this year? The 2020 J-2 international draft probably needs to be cancelled. Any analysis & discussion of this in the sports media? They’re all afraid to ask, much less answer these questions.

One final footnote on MLB 2020. I theorized during the Mookie Betts salary dump saga that MLB would not sanction the Boston Red Sox for their iPhone cheating scandal during their 2018 World Series championship season with manager Alex Cora. It’s clear now that MLB has let their transgressions go. The Houston Astros will be the only MLB organization to be punished for electronic sign stealing, and then thrown to the media. The Astros are still taking heat for this, and the many Red Sox boosters in the MLB commissioner’s office are there to make sure this doesn’t happen to Boston.

[Edit: April 23, 2020] The final penalty for the Boston Red Sox electronically stealing signs is 2018 is the loss of a 2nd round pick in this year’s June amateur draft. Also, the Red Sox video replay system operator, J.T. Watkins, is suspended for two seasons. That’s it. Alex Cora was already fired, so suspending him (& Watkins) for 2020 (which will be cancelled anyways), is an empty gesture.

This punishment is nothing close to what the Houston Astros received for similar transgressions, and now it’s all swept under the rug by MLB. No media attacks on the Red Sox, or calls for players & management to explain themselves to the fans. Just as I analyzed & predicted, months ago. It helps to have friends in high places.

According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s 15-page report, “I find that the Red Sox front office consistently communicated MLB’s sign-stealing rules to non-player staff and made commendable efforts toward instilling a culture of compliance in their organization… No other member of the 2018 Red Sox staff will be disciplined because I do not find that anyone was aware of or should have been aware of Watkins’s conduct.”

No mention of iPhone watches in the Red Sox dugout in 2018. Everything in Manfred’s report is meant to minimize the impact on the Boston Red Sox, from its language to its actual content. Example: it is footnoted on page 4, that losing a second-round pick may be more meaningful to the Red Sox in 2020, because there may only be 5 rounds to the draft this year. Do you see how the Red Sox suffer? The Houston Astros will also lose their second-round pick this year, so what is that footnote about?

MLB’s final 15-page report spends an inordinate amount of time discussing the actions of a video replay system operator, and not enough about what the coaches & players did with that information & when. No rational baseball fan believes that J.T. Watkins was the sole mastermind, and manager Joey Cora was the sole beneficiary in this scandal. But that’s what MLB wants you to believe, and they have a compliant lapdog media to assist them with their false narrative. This is a despicable cover-up by MLB, proving extreme east-coast bias towards the Boston Red Sox.

The NFL (above) is to start its draft on April 23, broadcast on ESPN & ABC. This is a prime-time annual event on the ESPN calendar, with Mel Kiper Jr & Company ready for analysis on every selection, and then at the end, the “big board” for next year. The NFL confirmed yesterday it will be a virtual draft, with team personnel at their homes.

The draft was originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, the new home of the Raiders. Since all the scouting & combines have happened, a NFL draft can be accomplished online. The issue is the upcoming season, which is supposed to begin its training camps on July 15. No way that happens for all the reasons discussed above. What’s the point of draft picks & agents negotiating contracts with teams, if there isn’t going to be a 2020 NFL season?

What about NCAA football? When 2020 gets cancelled, then teams will have no scouting for the 2021 draft. Same with high-school football, and college recruiting.
Do you see how tied-in all this is? This is why Donald Trump conference-called all these league commissioners (& NHL) on Saturday, April 4.

“President Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, sources familiar with the call told ESPN. ‘I want fans back in the arenas,’ Trump said later in a briefing at the White House. ‘I think it’s … whenever we’re ready. As soon as we can, obviously. And the fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air.'”

For reference in Europe, less than a week ago professional tennis cancelled its men’s & women’s tours through the French Open & Wimbledon, which was to run June 29 to July 12. No comment on 2020 US Open, which is scheduled August 24 through September 13 in Queens NY. The site is the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is currently closed until further notice– due to coronavirus.

The last ATP & WTA major before coronavirus COVID-19 was the 2020 Australian Open in January. That event was affected by wildfires raging across the continent at the time, and this was considered the major world news story of the day. Everywhere except China & their region in Asia. Both these pandemics (wildfires & coronavirus) are linked to global warming.

The tours that have responded best are the ones that have pivoted online. One somewhat surprising example is NASCAR, whose top drivers are now competing in iRacing, which is competitive video game racing online. The top drivers are nowhere near as good as the gamers at this, but racing fans still have interest. Dale Earnhardt, Jr discusses this Kyle Busch here:

The best part is that fans can follow their favorite participating drivers, observe their skills, and see their personalities come out– without NASCAR BS.The ruling establishment connected with every nation needs these carnival tours to recommence in real life, otherwise it’s going to be a revolution on all fronts. That’s what a sportswriter with imagination has to say today.


Orlando Tragic Basketball: 1989-Present

Preamble: A man goes to a pro-league game to watch a professional sporting event.  By half-time, he’s vexed with a headache from exploding scoreboards, cheerleaders, endless promotions and loud music– all during the game.  He seeks the team’s general manager to express his preference for a game, without circuses.  The GM (yet another Bill Veeck disciple) replies, “You’re what we call a purist, there aren’t very many of you.”


Pat Williams: Squeaky Clean Frontman, February 4 1999

Pat Williams came to Orlando in 1986, at the behest of local businessman Jimmy Hewitt.
His job was to bring a NBA franchise to Orlando, and he did so by convincing 14,176 metro sports fans to reserve season tickets for a team that didn’t yet exist.
This gave Orlando the highest total of any city vying for a NBA franchise at the time, and on April 22, 1987 they were granted one to begin play in 1989-90. [1]

Pat Williams was the GM in Philadelphia from 1974-86, helping build a team that won the 1982-83 NBA championship.
Williams engineered trades for Hall-of-Famers: Julius Erving and Moses Malone, while drafting All-Star performers Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney.
He finally became frustrated with the 76ers mismanagement, and despite having a young Charles Barkley, he left for Orlando in June 1986.

John Gabriel, who began in public relations in 1983 with the 76ers, was Williams’ first hire.
Together these two created the image for the Orlando Magic; from their mascot name (which Disney approved), logos & colors, down to basketball personnel & staff.  [2]
It was first Pat Williams (before being put out to pasture around 1996), then John Gabriel who called the shots for the Orlando Magic, until Gabriel was fired in 2004.

Rich DeVos & family finalized the purchase of the Orlando Magic on Sept. 19, 1991 for $85 million, and have been the owners ever since.
DeVos made his fortune in Amway, a multi-level marketing (MLM) pyramid scheme founded in 1959, whose financial success has made his family one of the wealthiest in the world.

A shadowy figure throughout Orlando Magic franchise history is Alex Martins.
He began his career with the Magic in 1989, as PR director.
Martins has multiple business degrees, and has never played nor coached  college/professional basketball.

In 2006 he was promoted to COO of the Magic, a position he has held up to this writing.
Martins forever won the favor of DeVos, by finally arm-twisting the city of Orlando into a new publicly-funded $500 million sports arena, which opened in 2010, as the Amway Center.

Alex Martins: Orlando Magic CEO

The original Orlando arena, colloquially known as the “O-Rena,” opened in 1989 and served as home for the Magic until the 2010-11 season.
In 1999, TD Waterhouse purchased the naming rights, and renamed the venue the TD Waterhouse Centre.
In 2006, DeVos bought the naming rights, and changed it to the Amway Arena.

The Magic made Orlando a NBA city, following an expansion fee of $32.5 million.
Williams hired Matt Guokas (76ers) as head coach and assistant GM, who helped him & Gabriel select twelve players in the NBA Expansion Draft on June 15, 1989.
In the 1989 NBA Draft; Guokas, Williams & Gabriel chose Nick Anderson (Illinois, 11th overall), the first pick for the Magic franchise.

The inaugural team included Reggie Theus, Scott Skiles, Terry Catledge, Sam Vincent and Otis Smith; finishing 18–64.
Most importantly, they sold out all their home games.

In their second (1990) NBA draft, the Orlando Magic nabbed Dennis Scott (Ga. Tech) with the 4th overall pick.

The 1991 draft was a disaster, as they blew both 1st round picks on stiff/overweight centers (#10 Bison Dele [Arizona] and #23 Stanley Roberts [LSU]).

The Magic’s fortunes forever changed on May 17, 1992, when the franchise won the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery.
Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) was the consensus #1 pick; a 7-1, 300-pound (in his salad days) ultra-athletic freak, who had just turned age 20.

Even with Shaquille O’Neal’s presence, the Magic just missed the 1993 NBA Playoffs.
For this they received the slimmest chance of gaining the top draft pick, with only one ping-pong ball in the lottery hopper.
Miraculously, the Magic again won the first pick and selected the correct player–Chris Webber (Michigan), whom they immediately traded to Golden State for the #3 overall pick– Anfernee Hardaway (Memphis St.), and three future #1 picks [in 1996, 1998 and 2000].

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was an All-Star shooting guard for the Magic, until he sustained a left knee injury early in the 1997-98 NBA season.
Orlando Magic team doctors carelessly allowed Hardaway to return to the court early, largely in an effort to play in the upcoming All-Star game.
In the process, he re-injured his knee, and ended up requiring more surgery.
He missed the remainder of that season, was never the same player again.

Nike_lil Penny

In 1993-94 with Shaq & Penny, along with new head coach Brian Hill, the Magic finished 50-32: but were swept by the Indiana Pacers 3-0 in the 1st round.

In the off-season, Orlando made a free agent splash, by signing power forward Horace Grant from the Chicago Bulls.
Grant’s production numbers in five seasons with the Orlando Magic (12 pts/ 8 rebs), had value.
Unfortunately Horace Grant’s contract was an overpay, which handcuffed the organization down the road.

1994-95     Orlando Magic     $2,125,000
1995-96     Orlando Magic     $2,763,000
1996-97     Orlando Magic     $14,857,000
1997-98     Orlando Magic     $14,285,714
1998-99     Orlando Magic     $7,843,000

Note: None of this was Horace Grant’s fault, as any NBA player offered an outrageously generous contract, happily signs it.

Horace & Shaq

In 1994-95 Orlando went 57-25, making it all the way to the NBA Finals.
It was a season to be envied; as Shaq, Penny, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott & Horace Grant were the darlings of the league.
Coached by Brian Hill, they ruined Michael Jordan’s early comeback attempt, and by June were picked by many experts to win it.
“Why not now?” became the organizational mantra. [3]

That question was definitively answered when they collapsed to the resilient & savvy Houston Rockets (47-35 during the season); allowing themselves to be swept 4-0.
Nick Anderson’s four free-throw misses, late in Game 1 are always pointed to as a focal point for the Magic meltdown.
A look at the stats from the series reveals that the Houston Rockets were simply better; with Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Robert Horry completely outplaying O’Neal, Hardaway, and Grant. [4]

Things looked bright early in 1995-96, as the Magic went a franchise best 60-22 in the regular season; but soured quickly in the Eastern Conference Finals when they were once again swept away, this time by the Chicago Bulls 4-0.
After this humiliation/realization, Shaquille O’Neal announced he was leaving Orlando to sign as a free agent with the LA Lakers.
This was announced as the Summer Olympics were being held in Atlanta, with Shaq as a member of the second Dream Team; one of his teammates was Penny.

With Shaq gone, the Magic were considered Hardaway’s team.
Penny took charge by leading a player’s revolt that ousted head coach Brian Hill.
In an organizational low-point (and that’s saying a lot for the Magic), Brian Hill was interviewed live on NBC, immediately after a dismal loss in Chicago on Sunday, February 16, 1997.
The reporter ambushed Hill point blank, asking if he had any comment about the rumor he’s about to be fired.
Hill was stunned, replying he had no knowledge or comment, before exiting up the tunnel. Peter Vecsey broke the story, and stood by it as a studio guest, after the Hill interview.
The Magic organization had no comment on any of this, until Brian Hill was fired the next evening, after the Magic lost in Charlotte.

Next season, Hardaway suffered the left knee injury, that ended up arthritic.
He was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the summer of 1999 for: Danny Manning, Pat Garrity, and two future first round-draft picks (2001 & 2002).

Both Penny Hardaway deals are instructive examples of wanton wastefulness, and deserve examination:

The 2001 pick (#18 overall) was included as part of a deal to clear cap room, and became Jason Collins (Stanford) picked by the Houston Rockets.
The Magic gave the 2002 pick back to Phoenix on November 16, 2001, as part of a 3-team trade, the Magic received Jud Buechler.
Phoenix used this pick to select Amar’e Stoudemire (Cypress Creek HS, Orlando [!]), with the #9 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

The Orlando Magic also received three #1 picks with Penny Hardaway, in exchange for Chris Webber in 1993; here’s how they turned out:

The 1996 #1 pick ended up being traded back to Golden State, who selected Todd Fuller (NC St.) with the #11 pick overall.
In exchange for it, the Magic got a 1st round pick in 1998, which became Keon Clark–  (UNLV, 13th overall), picked by the Magic.
Keon Clark was immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets for a 2000 1st round pick, which became Keyon Dooling (Missouri)– selected #10 overall by the Magic.
Dooling was immediately traded (along with Corey Maggette, Derek Strong and cash), to the Los Angeles Clippers– for a 2006 1st round draft pick.
This pick was then traded in 2002, to the Denver Nuggets– for a 2004 2nd round draft pick.
February 19, 2003: the Orlando Magic trade this pick (along with Ryan Humphrey, Mike Miller and a 2003 1st round draft pick (#27 pick overall–Kendrick Perkins was selected); to the Memphis Grizzlies for Gordan Giricek and Drew Gooden.

The 1998 #1 pick ended up being traded back to Golden State, who selected Vince Carter (North Carolina) with the #5 overall pick.
The 2000 #1 pick ended up being used by Orlando to take Mike Miller (Florida– 5th overall), who became the 2000-01 NBA Rookie of the Year for the Magic.

Darrell Armstrong_Flash

Doc Rivers took over the Magic, after Chuck Daley retired as head coach in 1999.
Darrell Armstrong had emerged as their best young player, and Doc Rivers was the perfect guy to coach him up.
Armstrong won the NBA 6th Man of the Year Award and the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1999, becoming the first player to win both awards simultaneously.

The 1999-2000 Orlando Magic are known forever as the Heart & Hustle team.
They went 41-41, just missing the playoffs.
Their roster was full of young players and cast-offs who never quit, including: Ben Wallace, Bo Outlaw, John Amaechi, Chucky Atkins, Corey Maggette, and Matt Harpring.
Doc Rivers was named Coach of the Year, the first (and only) time the award went to a coach, whose team failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Doc Rivers and Darrell Armstrong Heart and Hustle

John Gabriel had been the GM in charge of the Magic, ever since Pat Williams was retired and kicked upstairs in the mid-1990’s.
The Penny Hardaway trade illustrations, discussed above were part of his master plan to clear salary cap room, in order to sign two top-tier free agents in the 2000 off-season.
The top prize was Tim Duncan, as the Orlando Magic went all out to bring him to central Florida.
They had already signed shooting guard Tracy McGrady, from the Toronto Raptors; and were convinced they needed Duncan as their big man.

Duncan ended up staying with the Spurs, and Plan B for Gabriel was Tracy McGrady & small forward, Grant Hill.

Background: on April 15, 2000, Grant Hill (playing for Detroit) sprained his left ankle in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
He continued to play until the first round playoff series against Miami.
The injury worsened, and Hill was forced to leave halfway through Game 2.
The Heat swept the Pistons 3–0.

Grant Hill was initially selected for the 2000 Olympics team, but could not play due to the ankle injury.
Hill was still in a cast & crutches when the Orlando Magic inked him to a 7-year, $94 million guaranteed contract; obtained in a sign & trade with Detroit.
The Orlando Magic traded Ben Wallace & Chucky Atkins to Detroit, for the rights to a crippled Grant Hill– at maximum money.
Ben Wallace’s monster defense & rebounding were invaluable in helping the Detroit Pistons win the NBA championship in 2003-04.

Sensational Tracy McGrady and Crippled Grant Hill Signed

Grant Hill never played a full season for the Magic, as team doctors and officials kept rushing him back onto the court, only to have him re-injure himself.
In March 2003, Hill underwent a major surgical procedure in which doctors re-fractured his ankle and realigned it with his leg bone.
Five days after the surgery, Hill developed a 104.5 °F fever with convulsions, requiring him to be rushed to the hospital.
Doctors removed the splint around his ankle and discovered a nasty MRSA infection.
He was hospitalized in serious condition for a week, and on intravenous antibiotics for six months.
This is a fair illustration of the medical care Grant Hill received as a member of the Orlando Magic. [5]

When Hill’s contract expired, he signed with Phoenix: playing in 70, 82, 81 and 80 games, in his first four seasons.

By the 2003-04 season, Gabriel’s plan had completely busted, as the Magic went 21-61; worst in the league.
John Gabriel was fired, along with Doc Rivers.

Gabriel eventually returned to the NBA as an executive and scout with the NY Knicks; he has now been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Doc Rivers won a NBA title as head coach of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, and currently is head coach of the LA Clippers.

John Weisbrod was named the new GM.
“Who the hell is John Weisbrod?” was the question everyone asked around the NBA.
It was a difficult question to answer seriously, as Weisbrod had an extended track record of successful scouting– in hockey.
As far as anyone could tell, he had never managed any basketball team before, at any level.

More background: the Orlando Solar Bears were owned by the DeVos family, and began IHL play in 1995.
They were successful until the league folded in 2001, winning the IHL’s final Turner Cup, its championship trophy.
When the IHL disbanded, DeVos promoted Weisbrod into the Magic organization, in an administrative position.
Weisbrod was promoted to GM of the Magic, after Gabriel was fired during the disastrous 2003–2004 season.

Again the Magic were beneficiaries of amazingly good fortune as they landed the #1 pick in the draft again!!– just as consensus blue-chipper Dwight Howard declared his eligibility (Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, #1 overall).
Anderson Varejao (Brazil) was also drafted by the Orlando Magic, in the 2nd round (30th pick) of the 2004 draft.
This is notable, because it is the only player of substance the Magic have ever drafted beyond the 1st round.
Varejao was, of course, immediately shipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers (with Drew Gooden and Steven Hunter); for Tony Battie and more future draft picks to fritter away.

GM John Weisbrod fired Doc Rivers early into the 2003-04 season, and promoted Johnny Davis to interim head coach; the temporary label was removed as he was declared head coach for 2004-05.
Until with only 18 games left in the miserable 2004–2005 campaign, Weisbrod fired Davis, and named assistant-coach Chris Jent interim head coach.

Weisbrod also clumsily mishandled superstar Tracy McGrady, who was developing serious back problems, from carrying too much of the load for the Magic.  He had quietly asked to be traded, then was jerked around by management, until a whirlwind 7-player deal sent McGrady, Juwan Howard, and Tyronn Lue to the Houston Rockets; for which the Magic received volatile point guard Stevie (lighten up) Francis, along with fungibles Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato.

On May 23, 2005, Weisbrod resigned from his position of General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of the Orlando Magic, under intense fan & media scrutiny.
He has since worked exclusively in the NHL; with the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

Otis Smith: Orlando Magic Player and GM

Otis Smith played for the Magic from 1989-92, then became their Director of Community Relations from 1996–1998, before heading to Golden State for a better management position.
Smith returned to the Magic, spending two years as Director of Player Development, before being promoted to co-General Manager for 2005-2006 season.
Otis Smith was then named GM of the Orlando Magic on May 3, 2006, finally officially replacing Weisbrod.

Meanwhile, someone in the Magic organization had rehired Brian Hill, who coached them to a 36–46 record in 2005–2006.
In May 2007, multiple media sources reported that Hill would not return to coach the Orlando Magic in 2007-08.
Later, it was reported he had been fired by GM Otis Smith.

Otis Smith’s first selection in the 2005 NBA draft was Fran Vazquez  (Spain–C, 6-10, 240 lbs)– #11 pick overall.
Vazquez quickly & definitively decided to stay in Spain, never playing in the NBA– the Magic still retain his rights.
It is still unclear as to whether anyone in the Orlando Magic front office ever bothered to speak with Vazquez before selecting him.
These are his stats in Europe through age 32, look them over and tell me what that selection was about? [6]

Here is a link to the entire Orlando Magic draft history. [7]
Outside of the early GM Pat Williams/Matt Guokas picks, and obvious #1 overall selections, it appears this organization rarely does any homework.
Year after year its usually wasted picks, as this organization lacks basketball brains at the top.
Examine their media guide for proof, as nearly every executive has a degree in business/marketing, with little-to-no basketball background. [8]

Franchises such as the Miami Heat, LA Lakers & Indiana Pacers retain hoops brains like Pat Riley, Jerry West & Larry Bird.
When Pat Williams gets too old, the Orlando Magic bring in figurines like Julius Erving & Patrick Ewing, who may have been great players, but lack an eye for talent and skills in player development.
Their roles are strictly PR, with nebulous VP titles and no real organizational influence.
Ever since Doc Rivers was pink-slipped, the Magic have developed very few championship-level NBA players.
They are, in many ways, the NBA’s managerial opposite of the San Antonio Spurs.

Billy Donovan Magic

After Brian Hill was released/fired for the second time, the Magic signed UF head basketball coach Billy Donovan.
Shortly after the announcement, Donovan changed his mind about the five-year, $27.5 million deal, and expressed his desire to return to the University of Florida. [9]
After a week of haggling, on June 5, 2007 the Magic finally released Donovan; and offered another contract to Stan Van Gundy, whom had been their original choice.
The Miami Heat allowed Van Gundy to leave to coach the Magic, in exchange for draft picks and cash.

Side-note: Billy Donovan was made to sign a five-year NBA no-compete contract with the Magic, keeping him at UF. Donovan recently signed a deal to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The most success the Magic ever found, was the 2008–09 season, when the Magic won 59 games under Stan Van Gundy.
Howard was an All-NBA player by then, and a beast in the 2009 playoffs; besting the Eastern Conference favorite Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James.
The Magic advanced to the NBA Finals, but lost several tight games, failing to execute late; and they were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
Orlando hasn’t seriously competed for a title since.

On May 21, 2012, Van Gundy was fired (along with GM Otis Smith), despite coaching his team to the playoffs in all five seasons.
Prior to the firing, Van Gundy had stated he had knowledge that Dwight Howard wanted him fired; that somebody from management had told him so; and that the team did not want to risk alienating Dwight Howard, who was their star player– able to opt out of his contract the following season. [10]
This whole saga is still referred to in Orlando as Dwightmare. [11]

Rich DeVos and Dwight Howard

Bob Vander Weide joined the Magic in 1992 as vice president of basketball operations.
He served as president for 16 years before being named CEO in July 2010, on the strength of his marriage to Cheri DeVos.
He was dismissed from the organization in the wake of; 1) her filing for divorce in 2012, and; 2) his drunk-calling Dwight Howard in the middle of the night, trying to persuade him to stay in Orlando.
Bob Vander Weide’s thoughts on the prospect of losing Dwight Howard (and how it compared to losing Shaq) were, “It’s a taxing process, but you learn from each one.” [12]

The reasons for Dwight Howard’s departure after 8 seasons in Orlando boil down to organizational incompetence & poor drafting, as J.J Redick (Duke #11 overall in 2006) was the only pick after 2004, that ever helped the Magic win.
Their inability to build a championship team around Howard, is perfectly illustrated in the Rashard Lewis signing, and then his trade.

July 11, 2007: Rashard Lewis was signed & traded by the Seattle SuperSonics to the Orlando Magic, here’s the contract:

2007-08     Orlando Magic          $14,880,000
2008-09     Orlando Magic          $16,447,871
2009-10     Orlando Magic          $18,876,000
2010-11     Washington Wizards      $19,573,711
2011-12     Washington Wizards      $21,136,631
2012-13     New Orleans Hornets     $13,700,000

Rashard Lewis was a 3/4 tweener, who could shoot; but didn’t rebound or help much defensively.
That’s neither a guy you give max money to, nor a championship player.
Those details never bother Orlando Magic management.

Lewis became untradable, until he was traded for another, even more untradable player– Gilbert Arenas in 2010:

On December 18, 2010 Rashard Lewis was traded by the Orlando Magic to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas, who could no longer play– due to knee injuries.
This was the money Arenas was owed at the time of the trade:

2010-11     Orlando Magic     NBA     $17,730,694
2011-12     Orlando Magic     NBA     $19,269,307
2012-13     Orlando Magic     NBA     $20,807,922

Arenas signed a six-year, $111 million contract in 2008 with the Wizards.
He was later suspended 50 games by the NBA, for bringing guns into the locker room.

On December 9, 2011, Arenas was waived by the Orlando Magic under the amnesty clause.
His salary was no longer counted against the cap, but the Magic still had to pay Arenas over $58 million.
Incredibly, they’re still paying him through 2016, even though he hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012. [13]

GM Otis Smith in 2006, “We’re building around a group of young guys in Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Darko Milicic and Travis Diener.” [14]
No wonder Dwight Howard finally bolted.

On August 10, 2012, Dwight Howard was dealt to the LA Lakers, as the centerpiece of a 4-team trade.


Prior to Downtown Master Plan 3, DeVos and son-in-law Bob Vander Weide, had been pressing the city of Orlando for a new arena for over a decade.
The Amway arena was built in 1989, prior to digital technology & advanced entertainment arenas.
It quickly became derided as antiquated, with too few luxury boxes, too far from the court.
That hurt revenue streams, and made it a difficult for rich people to be seen prominently at Orlando Magic games.  [15]

On September 29, 2006, after years of backroom negotiations, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, and the Orlando Magic announced an agreement on a new arena in downtown Orlando.

The Amway Center broke ground on July 25, 2008.
It opened on October 1, 2010.
The construction cost was $480 million.
On April 3, 2010 it was reported that Fitch Rating Agency had downgraded the bonds used to finance the new arena to “junk” status.

Rob Hennigan was made GM of the Orlando Magic in 2012, replacing Otis Smith.
Hired at age 30, and still the youngest GM in the NBA [16], Hennigan just signed an extension through the 2017-18 season.

Orlando Magic head coaches since 2012:

Jacque Vaughn (2012–2015)   W/L 58-158
James Borrego (2015 interim)  W/L 10-20

As of this publication, the Orlando Magic list their head coaching position as vacant.

Update: Scott Skiles was announced as the new Magic head coach on 5-29-15.  [17]

Orlando Magic franchise totals:

Seasons: 26; 1989-2015
Record: 1027-1057  (W-L% .493)
Play-off Appearances: 14
Championships: 0

Television Broadcasting:
Jack “Goose” Givens was the Orlando Magic television color commentator for Sun Sports and the FS Florida cable stations, from 1989-2004.
Givens was relieved of his position in 2004, over allegations of him molesting a 14-year old girl. [18]
He was acquitted of the charges, but was never offered another job with any organization.
He was replaced with Matt Guokas, then Jeff Turner.

Chip Carey & “Goose” Givens were originally paired from inception through 1997-98.
In 1998, Carey took his shtick to TBS (and FOX), to do play-by-play for the Atlanta Braves, with his father Skip.

David Steele took over the mic in 1998-99 (he did the Magic radio broadcast 1989-98), and is still one of the best NBA play-by-play announcers.
Steele has great respect for, and knowledge of the game; and is silky smooth in his call of the action.
He is one of the best assets this organization has, and Magic fans have been fortunate to have him on the air all these years.

David Steele: Voice of the Magic

Overall, the Orlando Magic are easily one of the worst (if not the worst) organizations is American sports,  No one has done less with more than the Magic in their short existence.  They are eerily similar to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, who will never win a Super Bowl, due to deep organization flaws and lack of understanding of what it takes to win. The Magic keeping hoping for more luck, instead of reflecting on & learning from, the boundless opportunities they’ve squandered over their 26-year existence. [19]

The Orlando Magic are owned by a Ponzi scheme billionaire, who understands nothing about building real value.  His modus operandi is: if there are no immediate results or quick returns, then blame whomever is convenient; discard them and start anew.  Right now, the Orlando Magic are as far from winning a championship as a franchise can get.

Rich DeVos: Orlando Tragic Owner

This is why star players leave Orlando, repeatedly. It’s also why free agents are no longer dazzled.  The fan base is constantly being dumbed-down by the insipid journalism of the Orlando Sentinel.  Michael A. Bianchi & the rest have been covering the Magic for decades, never producing any insight on the striking maladies of this franchise.  There is never any reflection on past history or mistakes, and therefore never any understanding leading to diagnosis of the problem.  Instead of fact-checking, hard questions, and intelligent analysis; fans & readers get pandered to, with half-baked recommendations and useless speculation. [20]

It speaks volumes that with all this history, no Orlando Magic player has had their number retired.  The only retired number is 6– for the fans as the “6th Man.”   Very little of the players’ sacrifices seem to be appreciated by those running the Magic.  Nick Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal, Darrell Armstrong, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard all deserve to be recognized & honored.  That’s the short list.  It won’t happen with the Orlando Magic under DeVos, as they are the very definition of a bush-league franchise, proving you just can’t buy respect.

Pyramid Scheme: Amway