Saturday, May 14, 2011

On This Day, May 14th: The Dwight-Stan Clash, A Scared McGrady, and Magic Fan Plays Hooky


Magic fans were starting to get spoiled and bored at this point of the postseason as the team was on the verge of dismantling the Atlanta Hawks in the 2nd Round. So what better way to keep fan interest than a Paul Porter imitation contest?! Paul has been the Magic's Public Address Announcer from Day 1. He is regarded as one of the best the league has ever had.

He was able to announce the '92 All-Star Game and will announce next year's here in Orlando again (Barring lockout issues). Also going on that day in '96, was the revelation that one of the Orlando Magic's playoff ticket prize winners decided to stick around another day in Atlanta instead of attending work.


Here's one of Mike Bianchi's columns that pleads Tracy McGrady to miss out on the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Being Greek, I know when media overreacts over issues involving the country. Through English media being overtly skeptical about Greece's security (That eventually trickled across the Atlantic to U.S. media), many athletes of all sports were afraid of terrorist plots. After all, this was just less than 3 years after 9/11. One of those with doubts about heading over was Orlando's Tracy McGrady.

We all know what would happen. McGrady along with eight others from last year's FIBA Americas team would skip out on the trip, and the 2004 Team USA basketball squad would have a disaster of a campaign, finishing with bronze as Argentina (Led by Manu Ginobili) beat them and would claim the gold. The Games ended up being extremely safe with no repercussions or stadium building issues and are considered one of the best held Olympics ever. Had Tracy been on that squad, they may have won Gold. McGrady would regret that decision for the rest of his life as he'd never get a chance to bring home a medal.


On the verge of being eliminated by the Boston Celtics, the Magic were down 3-2 and heading back home for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semis. This was the first legitimate clashing between Dwight Howard and Head Coach Stan Van Gundy in regards to how to approach several facets of their game play.

So it was with this established understanding that the two leading Magic figures met amid a swirling controversy the morning after the Magic's 92-88 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the playoffs on Tuesday night.

Howard complained about not getting the ball enough ("You got a dominant player, let him be dominant.") and questioned some of Van Gundy's late-game strategy, his comments sending the talk-shows and Twitters all atwitter.

The Magic planned to take the day off until Howard aired his beefs so publicly for the first time in his five-year career, on a playoff stage. They decided to gather and deal with the issue, considering the real drama unfolds tonight at Amway Arena.

Trailing the Boston Celtics 3-2 in the series, the Magic play a win-or-go-home Game 6, looking to force a Game 7 on Sunday in Beantown.

Howard and Van Gundy talked before the team meeting, and they each said everything was cool.

Howard backed off his comments like a Michael Jackson moon-walk. But Van Gundy didn't back off of anything, defending his Xs and his Os and even lightly chastising Howard.

Van Gundy said he "didn't think [Howard's] energy level was as high [Tuesday night]. The only game in this series where he's played with great, great energy throughout was Game 3 in Orlando."

Howard: "Me and Stan. We talked. A great talk, actually. . . . I can't let my frustrations get to a level where I say anything. He understands that as a player, you can get frustrated . . . but at the same time I have to get ready for Game 6."

As it (THANK YOU GOD) turned out, the 'meeting' would prove to be a success. Orlando would return to Amway Arena and win Game 6. I'll leave it there as we all know the turnaround this team began. 

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