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Orlando Magic

The Rob Hennigan Project Makes Strides in Orlando 2.0: Orlando Magic Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Aaron Afflalo, SF Moe Harkless, PF Glenn Davis, C Nikola Vucevic
Key bench players: SG/PG Victor Oladipo, SF/PF Tobias Harris, PF Andrew Nicholson, C Kyle O’Quinn, PG E’Twaun Moore
Notable offseason additions: Victor Oladipo (2nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft)
Notable offseason subtractions: C Al Harrington, SF Hedo Turkoglu
FACT OR FICTION: One year removed from Dwight Howard’s departure from Orlando, it is clear that the Magic got the worst of the four-team, blockbuster trade of the 2012-2013 season.
“This deal stinks for the Magic. It’s great for the Lakers, though. Some things never change.”—Sports Illustrated
“The Magic traded the best player in a four-team swap and got the worst package. Amazing.”—SBNation
“They got the short end of the deal.”—ESPN
“Out of the four teams in this blockbuster, the Magic far and away come out the losers here…”—The Great Mambino
Those are obviously quotes from the Dwight Howard trade a year ago, including one from our very own KOBEsh on this blog. Now one year removed from the Dwightmare, it is clear that GM Rob Henningan was the winner in that transaction. The biggest moving pieces in the four team trade undoubtedly were Dwight Howard (who left the Lakers much worse off than the Magic), Andre Iguodala (who is now playing for Golden State), and Andrew Bynum (who not only doesn’t play for the Sixers anymore but also didn’t play a single game last year). Not only have the Magic acquired a core of young and talented players in that trade (as well as Tobias “Looks-like-a-chump-plays-like-a-champ” Harris in the lopsided JJ Redick deal), but they also will have a first round pick the following two years thanks to the Sixers and the Lakers. It is clear that Rob Henningan’s Sam Presti based rebuilding model is working. Slowly it surely, the plan is clearly in place in Orlando.… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Preview Series: Most Improved, Disappointing and Regressed Teams

The MAMBINO crew came together and threw down their predictions for not just the formal NBA awards, but also for the most improved, disappointing and regressed teams for the 2012-2013 season. Our choices for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Eastern and Western Conference winners and of course, NBA Champion will come next week.  For now, check out some work from El Mariachi and KOBEsh on the most improved, disappointing and regressed teams:

Who will be the most improved team this season?
El Mariachi: The Brooklyn Nets

The end of the 2010-2011 season was an exciting albeit disappointing one for Nets fans. The surprise trade for All-Star point guard Deron Williams was a huge move that many thought would be the major piece in bringing three-time Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. But when they lost Williams’ first three games and then proceeded to lose him to injury for most of the end of the season, most Nets fans would call it a wash or quite frankly a disappointing end. But next year it could only get better. Right? No. It got worse. No matter how you look at it, the 2011-2012 season for the Nets was rougher than the year before. With the preseason stress fracture to Brook Lopez’s foot – which caused him to miss all but five games – the Nets found themselves with a 22-44 record and that they would blow everyone out in one category; total games missed due to injury totaling in 248. And with trade rumors hovering over the franchise and talks of Deron leaving after this year, it looked like the Nets were going to have to rent out their new home at the Barclays Center to the New York Wizards.

The Nets couldn’t have hit any lower than they were for the last two years which is why the 2012-2013 season is the year they have no choice but to improve and actually make it into the playoffs. 

Once Dwight was off the table, this season was quite honestly looking mighty bleak for the Nets. But the acquisition of six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and the re-signing of Williams breathed life back into the franchise and brought a sense of relief to Jay-Z that he wouldn’t have to do a show every weekend until he’s dead. The pairing of Johnson and Williams threatens to be one of the best backcourts in the league. Now that Brook Lopez is back in the fold, this is the first time in a long time that we will be seeing a healthy starting five for Brooklyn, instead of the 25 different starting lineups we saw last year.

If the Nets won (which happened…sometimes), it was because Williams put the team on his back. Now with the Brook and Johnson as his weapons, we can expect to see him spreading the ball around and being the facilitator we know he can be which should get him more looks than last yea

Hoping for Something, but What?: Orlando Magic Season Preview

(A guest post from our resident Orlando Magic fan, El Mariachi. Soak up this relevance now, bud. You’re a year away from being a Bobcats-like apparition in the hoops world)

Starting Five: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Arron Afflalo, SF Hedo Turkoglu, PF Al Harrington, C Glen Davis (Tentative)

Key Bench Players: G J.J. Redick, F Moe Harkless, F Quentin Richardson, C Nikola Vucevic, C Gustavo Ayon

Notable offseason additions: SG Arron Afflalo, F Al Harrington, PF Josh McRoberts, C Gustavo Ayon, Head Coach Jacque Vaughn, GM Rob Hennigan

Notable offseason subtractions: Entire team, C Dwight Howard, F Ryan Anderson

For a long time, the Dwightmare had hung over the city of Orlando, souring any semblance of a season, especially in 2011. Change was coming and cast a dark shadow over the entire organization until it was nearly unrecognizable. The firing of head coach Stan Van Gundy felt like a death in the family–the lighting of the fuse that would eventually blow the team apart. The only good thing coming out of the season really was that the team would get some great assets for the inevitable trade of superstar Dwight Howard so that they could rebuild right away. THAT, and the firing of GM Otis “I peed the bed again” Smith.

And here we are with Dwight gone, a new team, and a new head coach in Jacque Vaughn, how can one not be excited? Oh wait, Orlando botched the easiest trade of the decade? That’s right. As an Orlando fan, I seem to block out that out of my memory from time to time.

Honestly being a Magic fan through the last year has kind of numbed me to the whole experience. So much so that the 2012-2013 season has me excited…and that’s saying a lot regarding this team. 

Arron Afflalo will be the main scoring option, while Vaughn will utilize the same inside outside play scheme that Van Gundy implemented. Having Dwight inside the lane, and being the most dominant force in the frontcourt this side of the solar system, allowed the Magic three-point shooters to rain down shots from beyond the arc at will without hesitation. This distance shooting would free up Dwight making Orlando a match up nightmare. But now that Howard is gone, the Magic will have to rely on Al Harrington, Gustavo Ayon and Glen Davis to free up the rest of the team which are made up of shooters.

The problem is that those three aren’t anywhere close to being the dominant inside presence that Dwight was for the Magic and won’t benefit the team that led the league in three point rate last year. Unless Vucevic immerges as a force down low, the Magic frontcourt isn’t going to free up anything besides a head coaching job. They would more likely lead the league in least points scored, or most GM’s fired.

The good thing is that Vaughn comes from the school of Gregg Popovich. Pop loves to run the pick and roll while working the corner 3s, which is, in my opinion the most effective and underrated play making in basketball. If the Magic can work the high post pick and roll game with Davis or Harrington, Afflalo could set a NBA league record with most wide-open-corner 3s made in a season (especially seeing that he made 40 percent of his three-point shots since his rookie season). He is the only worthwhile piece that Orlando got back in the Dwight trade, so the coaching staff has to find a way to use him effectively if they have any hope of salvaging this team. For the moment, it’s effectively Afflalo’s team now, which is terrifying and exciting all at once. He is an all around solid-to-good-to-could-be-great player that has built himself into a relative “star”. I Read more...

The Five Stages of Grief: Musings on Dwight Howard from an Orlando Magic Fan

(A week ago, the Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard to an undisclosed location. It have been CSKA Moscow or something, because I haven’t heard any information since then. Anyway, MAMBINO contacted the only living Magic fan outside of central Florida, our own El Mariachi, to give his thoughts on the trade. Having had a week to mire in his his own blue and white pit of despair, we asked him to get a pulse on the feelings of the beleaguered Orlando fanbase) 
The Five Stages of Grief : End of an Era

The Magic are idiots. All I can say is don’t worry, in 8 years when the Magic are good you’ll feel so good about your loyalty.”
11:00pm August 9th – D-12 Day
That was the text I received from my friend while getting in to bed that night. Say what you will, but I didn’t feel the urge to turn the computer and read everything I could about the trade. Instead, I closed my eyes knowing that it was finally over, Dwight was gone and now we, as a fan base, can move on.
I awoke to a nightmare.
Denial [dih-nahyuhl] disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.

What you have to understand first and foremost is that I am happy Dwight is gone. To have such a cloud hovering over the organizing made watching anyMagic game unwatchable. I would have the games on mute just to block out the endless commentating on where Dwight would end up. Unless Marv Albert was commentating. I would never mute him. He is a living deity.
So with this trade came a sense of relief, though fleeting as it may be. Because once reality sets back in, the fact that you just lost your only hope for the foreseeable future is like a swift kick to the nuts. And the fact that we literally got NOTHING back for him is like a full blown castration. And our wife has left us. And we’ve lost our inheritance. And our dog was run over.

“The Magic are idiots.”

It’s almost inconceivable that when you have the biggest trading piece of the decade, eclipsed only by LeBron James, you don’t come out with a W in the trade category! Instead of Andrew Bynum and/or Pau Gasol or the couple hundred draft picks the Rockets and Nets were throwing the Magic’s way, we end up with the poor man’s Andre Iguodala, Arron Afflalo (who as of right now is the best scoring option we have at 15.2 ppg last year – kill me now!) and two (of three) lottery protected draft picks, one of which will come in 2017 at the earliest! And Andre Iguodala is already the poor man’s Lebron, so that makes Afflalo the homeless, disease ridden man’s Lebron James.
Every article, report, and news story I have read is in agreement with me. The Magic botched this trade by unloading Dwight to get a team that isn’t terrible, but also isn’t good. And no matter how you look at it, it’s going to be that way for a long time. This trade is analogous to the burrito I’m eating; in the end it all falls apart.
I keep imagining that there is going to be an impromptu press conference where Otis and Stan are going to jump out and say “Sike!” and Dwight will drop down on wires and fly around the room. Right before the publicly execute Gilbert Arenas.
Anger [ang-er] – a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.

So the Magic didn’t get better, but they also didn’t get as bad as they should have in the deal. I mean, why trade away your only building blocks to get glue and maybe some paint thinner?! Al Harrington is coming off a great year but the guy is 32 and waving his prime goodbye. And this Vucevic kid could be good but best case scenario would yield h

Instant Trade Analysis: Dwight Howard to the Los Angles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers get: C Dwight Howard, PG Chris Duhon, SF Earl Clark
Orlando Magic get: PF Moe Harkless, C Nikola Vucevic (from Philadelphia), F Al Harrigton, SG Arron Afflalo (from Denver), 3 1st round picks (from Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles), 2 2nd round picks
Philadelphia 76ers get: C Andrew Bynum (from Los Angeles), SF Jason Richardson (from Orlando)
Denver Nuggets get: F Andre Iguodala (from Philadelphia)
In a trade that had become so apparent that it eventually became surprising again, the Orlando Magic have finally traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal that immediately changes the face of each franchise.
To break this mammoth deal down, let’s go city-by-city:… Read more...

How the Orlando Magic Deal Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets – and Why They’d Be Fools Not To

(El Miz is in transit today, so I am posting on his behalf. Please see his thoughts on the newest “Dwightmare”)

Dwight Howard has demanded a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.  While the possibility exists that new Magic GM Rob Hennigan could deal him elsewhere, the Magic would need to find a trading partner who would be willing to give up assets for a disgruntled superstar who would still want to play in Brooklyn.  Good luck with that.

So after bungling his first “demand” at the Trade Deadline last February by caving as the minutes ticked down (allegedly after Twitter feedback got too negative, a rumor which if true arguably eliminates the likelihood of Dwight even having the mental makeup necessary to be the best guy on a championship team), Dwight finally manned up yesterday and told the Magic straight up that not only does he no longer want to play in the Magic Kingdom. He wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

This is an excellent opportunity for the Magic.  Hennigan would be a fool if he is reluctant because of the misguided machismo premise: “Dwight won’t tell me what to do!”  Get over yourself, bro.  Deal Dwight, and rebuild overnight. 

If Hennigan still has cold feet, he should look at his roster objectively and consider whether the Magic can win as presently constructed.  The answer is no.  A disgruntled superstar, and a hilariously overpaid group of old has-beens masquerading as a supporting cast.  Hennigan can blame former GM Otis Smith for mismanaging the roster and committing to the likes of Hedo Turkoglu ($11.4 in 2012-13, $12.2 in 2013-14), Jason Richardson ($5.8 in 2012-13, $6.2 in 2013-14, $6.6 in 2014-15), and Chris Duhon ($3.7 in 2012-13, $3.9 in 2013-14).




Dwight Howard



Hedo Turkoglu




Glen Davis




JJ Redick




Jason Richardson




Ryan Anderson




Quentin Richardson




Chris Duhon



Justin Harper








Enter the Nets.

The Nets only have $17 million committed in salaries for the 2012-13 season.  They are far under the estimated salary cap of $60 million (NOTE: the salary cap and the tax-paying threshold of $70 million are two different numbers) and able to take on some of the bad contracts.   Tell the Nets that they can have Dwight.  Tell the Nets they can have Hedo, J-Rich, and Duhon, too.  Insist the only way the deal gets done is if Brooklyn takes on the three worst contracts left on the Magic.

The Magic can also insist the Nets give up skilled 7-footer Brook Lopez, second-year scorer MarShon Brooks, and a haul of future draft picks.  In four NBA seasons, Lopez has career averages of 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks.  Prior to last year’s foot injury, Lopez had been 82/82 in his first three NBA seasons in terms of games played.  He has been a durable 7-footer who can score, make free throws, and block shots.  Brooks showed flashes of potential as a rook, going for over 20-points seven times.  He may be nothing more than instant offense off the bench, but he is young and cheap.

Trading Howard immediately makes Orlando a young team with a ton of cap flexibility.  Cap flexibilityin today’s NBA opens the door to being involved in any trade as a third-team that can take on a contract or two to facilitate the deal, while taking on draft picks and prospects in exchange for getting involved to help the trade go through.  Most imRead more...

NBA Eastern Conference Preview

The first round of the NBA playoffs does not attract the average fan. The NBA actually made it that way when it mandated that all series would be a best-of-seven deathmatch, instead of the exciting, upset-rich best-of-fives that occurred in the first round. So as KOBEsh mentioned in his Western Conference preview, the better team will win in the vast majority of occurrences. But true Mambinites are legitimate hoopheads, so this year’s first round of the NBA playoffs won’t be any less special. Call us hipsters, because we don’t need the general public to appreciate the drama on the hardwood.

Onto the picks…

1) Chicago Bulls vs. 8) Philadelphia 76ers – Chicago in four

I wanted to get an actual picture of the cereal, but when
Google Images serves me lemons, I make lemonade.

BockerKnocker: The Sixers are an interesting bunch. I liken them to a bowl of Lucky Charms. Now, I haven’t ever eaten Lucky Charms, so the fact that this analogy comes to mind makes me think that I’m quite possibly stealing someone else’s material. Anyways, the perfect spoonful of this particular cereal is when you get the right mix of bran (for lack of a better word) and marshmallow. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. In ‘Delphia, the basketball team can put together fantastic runs. Their perimeter defense, featuring all-world lockdown man Andre Iguodala, will force turnovers and produce plenty of easy baskets. A transition dunk is like the perfect spoonful of cereal. However, when your childlike eyes gaze upon a bowl of Lucky Charms, you pick out the spoonfuls that guarantee you the taste of sugar from those marshmallows. The only problem is that by the end of the bowl, you’re going full bran. The change from good to bad is so sudden that you don’t realize what happens. And that’s what this Sixers team is like in the 4th quarter. There’s no go-to guy in the clutch; their best scorer comes off the bench. They’re either too old (Elton Brand) or too young (Evan Turner) to really make some noise. On the other side of the court, the Chicago Bulls are not being talked about like a normal #1 seed due to all of their injuries. Well guess what? They’re after me Lucky Charms. Get Santa Claus out, because Philly fans will be booing all series long.

Why the 76ers can win 1 game (KOBEsh): I wrote this earlier this season, but the reason why the 76ers had so much early succcess is that every person on the roster fills their roles to the brim. Even in their second half slide, falling to the number 8 spot, the Sixers are still playing All-League defense, limiting opposing teams to 88 points on 42% shooting and 7th in rebounds. Philly has to continue their regular season trends, and then for just one game, one of their scorers has to go off for between 20 and 30 points at home. That’s pretty much all this relatively punchless team can do against a monstrous Chicago attack.

2) Miami Heat vs. 7) YOUR…New York Knickerbockers – Miami in seven

KOBEsh: Oh, you mean besides LeBron James? Well…that’s pretty much it. The Miami role players have been so rancid that the NBA title in June that once seemed a lock, no longer seems guaranteed. While the Knicks seemingly have a defensive stopper for both Wade and Bosh, LeBron’s brilliance is the most prevalent factor that will give the Heatles the series W. As we wrote the other day in our MVP post, LeBron isn’t just great right now; he’s historically great. Even with Carmelo’s inspired play as of … Read more...

From Bron to Dwight, The South Beach Theory: How a Superstar Becomes Hated

Friday, April 20th marked the end of Dwight Howard in an Orlando Magic uniform.

The center’s season ended, as doctors concluded that surgery for a herniated disc was necessary for the Orlando Magic star center. He underwent the knife shortly thereafter, ruling Howard out for any postseason play, as well as the Summer Olympics in London, where he surely would have held down the starting 5 slot.

The chatter all season long had been if Dwight was going to stay in Orlando, with a player option for the 2012-2013 season being at his disposal to either exercise, or decline. The choice was his to either stay in Orlando and sign a long-term extension, leave the Magic for a bigger market team closer to winning a title, and of course, to expand his off-court opportunities, or “brand” if you will. Ultimately, Dwight decided to waive his option to become a free agent this summer, citing that the team’s success this season against the best teams in the league in recent months had emboldened him to the point where he thought this current squad might be able to, or was close to winning a NBA title.

Just a few weeks ago, I had a conversation in the office with one of the only hardcore Orlando Magic fans in the tri-state area, and we came to the conclusion that maybe, JUST MAYBE, this Orlando squad could make a miracle run to the Finals. They’d have no trouble beating the Celtics or Hawks in the first round, and then faced with the purportedly impervious Chicago or Miami, perhaps 2 weeks of spectacular play from Howard (nothing less than 28 point, 15 boards and 60% shooting would do) and the shooters surrounding him (with a requisite 3P FG% of about 45%) could propel a hot team to the Finals, similar to their run in 2009. That success could perhaps get Dwight to realize that Orlando is the place where he took two teams to the Finals, and could very well do so again in signing for the long-term.  This isn’t a farfetched theory; Dwight admitted that the team would have to do as much in this year’s playoffs for him to stay.

Now, without the possibility of the Magic going far into the postseason bracket, we’re left with the same question that so closely tailed Orlando and Howard all season long – will the team deal Howard before he leaves them for nothing? Not a month after we thought it was over, Dwight Howard’s Decision, or Indecision, has been ignited anew. This is the South Beach Theory.

It’s Thursday morning, March 15th. The brand-new Amway Center arena, literally still shining as the plastic was ripped from its panels only months earlier, is packed to the brim with reporters, writers and Orlando Magic personnel. They wait patiently, laptops fired up and recorders ready to go, as a man resembling a gigantic, though all-too mortal version of Atlas steps to the microphone, ready to resolve a months -long black hole whose gravitational pull has taken down every team in the NBA down with it.

Dwight Howard is dressed in a striped blue and white polo shirt, with an eye-searing pink ringing around the ends of his sleeves and hanging around his neck, like a Perez Hilton-inspired noose. He looks like a 8 year-old boy, whose mother dressed him in a nice outfit for a big occasion. An incredibly fitting choice, considering Dwight’s demeanor that day.

As he sits down in front of these two dozen strangers, Howard looks so worn, beaten and demoralized, that even a sheepish 8 year-old would sit with more poise. Slouched over on the table in front of him, Dwight’s massive shoulders that typically look like they cRead more...

Andrew Bynum vs. Brook Lopez: Who provides the best value for a potential Dwight Howard trade

It’s less than two weeks away from the beginning of the NBA season. Usually at this point in the year, there would be some sort of consensus, or at least disputed consensus, on how the season could play out, and where teams would generally finish at the end of the year. This season, no matter who you ask, from the most excitedly overzealous super fan to a jaded old beat reporter, I don’t think that one person could give a correct appraisal for how the 2011-2012 NBA season will look like in June. The swirling rumor mill regarding Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have completely destabilized the entire NBA, from the Lakers to the Clippers, the Rockets to the Knicks and everyone in between. Add in a new set of rules coming from the freshly negotiated CBA, the balance of power in the league will tip, but in what way, I don’t think that anyone really knows.

One of the most hotly debated questions is Dwight Howard’s future (David Stern and the league’s involvement with the Hornets and thus Chris Paul turns that situation into a Tim Wakefield special – unwieldy, unpredictable and fat. Maybe not that last part. But damn, Tim Wakefield has a belly), specifically where he’ll end up. Two of the dispersed rumors would be a deal that either ends with Dwight on the New Jersey-turned-Brooklyn Nets or the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets package would be headlined by 7’ center Brook Lopez, accompanied with two draft picks (including Golden State’s 2012 first rounder, as well as the Nets own 2012 pick) and the cap space to take up Hedo Turkoglu’s remaining $30+ million dollar deal. The Lakers’ offer would presumably be fellow 7’ center Andrew Bynum, two draft picks (Dallas’ 2012 first rounder and the Lakers 2012 first rounder) as well as a $8.9 million dollar trade exception to pick up the remainder of Hedo Turkoglu’s contract.

So what would you do, given that there seems to be no better options out there?

From my buddy El Miz, I got the following e-mail:

First of all, I think its crazy how overrated you guys (and the Buss family) value Bynum. When I think of Bynum, as at least a somewhat non-partial NBA fan, I see a completely immature 7 footer who has played a full NBA season ONE TIME in his 6 year NBA career. Brook Lopez has played 82 games all 3 years of his NBA career. He is 3 for 3 on playing a full NBA season, compared to Bynum being 1 for 6. Lopez is clearly the better offensive player, they are comparable offensive rebounders, and both are adept shot blockers. Also, Lopez is actually YOUNGER than Bynum is!

I don’t see how the Magic look at the trade offer which is Bynum, 2 picks and the trade exception for Howard and Hedo and then a trade offer which is Lopez, other picks, and also for Howard and Hedo. I don’t think either is a superior proposition, and if I HAD to pick one as the GM of the magic…I’m taking Lopez! Not even in the same ballpark as an injury risk, more mature player, and a better offensive game. Does Bynum have more upside? Yea, but the guy’s a moron.

In some regards, I agree with El Miz here. Andrew is a child; he’s 24 going on 13. I’ve been to a bunch of Lakers games in person and I think the best thing about actually going to the games is watching how guy react in the huddle (which you don’t see on TV). At a majority of them, I see a detached Bynum, removed from everything. It doesn’t look like he’s got a rapport with his teammates, his joking is never reciprocated when he’s talking to guys like Luke or Pau and he’s constantly just staring blankly. The intensity and focus isn’t there. Of course th… Read more...

WWE for a NBA Fan – Southeast Division (Part 2)

In my despondency regarding the NBA Lockout, I devised a series of posts detailing how a typical NBA fan could survive a basketball-less winter with the help of well-placed WWE Superstar replacement suggestions. While it seemed far-fetched on the surface, I actually came up with some similarities between the two “sports”, and more importantly, it gave me an excuse to write about professional wrestling.

Then Friday happened. To my amazement and surprise, the NBA season seemed as if it would proceed with a 66-game schedule. My abject joy aside, I realized that my massive 6-parter titled “WWE for an NBA Fan – How to Survive the NBA Lockout with the WWE” was now pretty bunk. Easily the worst part of the lockout ending.

However, seeing as half of it is already done and I enjoyed writing it so much, I will soldier on with the WWE for an NBA Fan series. While the NBA might be back, remember that the WWE never turned its back on you. These suggestions still bear weight, and perhaps, just perhaps, it will bring more eyes to the WWE. So I won’t be alone. Sad and alone.

(Check back here for Part 1)

Atlanta Hawks: Kofi Kingston

As far as I can tell, the Hawks, who in their time in Atlanta have only gone so far as the conference finals twice (not since the 1969-70 season) and their fan base are not really concerned with winning and excellence so much as they are with playing hard and entertaining the crowd. Kofi Kingston is a fantastically entertaining wrestler, whose aerial moves and wrestling maneuvers are all highlighted by his extraordinary flexibility and agility. He’s gone so far as to win the Intercontinental title, but truthfully, is no real threat to a world title any time soon. He’s an entertainer, he works hard and he went to the best undergraduate college in the land.

Orlando Magic: Kane

I feel awful for Orlando. I really really do. In their brief 20 year history, they’ve made two finals (two more than Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington combined), had Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Dwight Howard and reaped no titles. Their consistency towards winning regular season games is to be recognized and respected, and yet, they never have quite enough to get them over the top. In fact, this team is has been cursed nearly as much as the Los Angeles Lakers have been blessed. Tracy McGrady was dropping 30 points a game while his team lost 60+ every year. Grant Hill, on a surefire Hall of Famer course after his brilliant college career at Duke and unbelievable play in Detroit, came to Orlando on a massive 7-year deal and only played in a staggering 34% of their games. Shaquille O’Neal, the best center of his generation, left the Magic and went on to win 4 titles with the Lakers and Heat. Dwight Howard, the best center of his generation, could very well do the same in 10 months time.

My point here is, the Magic’s tortured fan base (one of the most underrated in all of sports) needs a superstar with consistency. They need to know year-in and year-out what they’re getting. They need a wrestler to match the toughness and physicality of player they’re used to seeing, with none of the disappointment.

Kane has been in the WWE in his current incarnation as the hideously burned brother of the Undertaker since 1997. His work in the ring is more than adequate, but less than excellent. He is a compelling character, a physical specimen and yet, not entirely fascinating enough for the company to completely invest itself in. His best description? A steady hand. Kane is good enough to b… Read more...