Thursday, May 19, 2011

On This Day, May 19th: Magic Prepare For Shaq, Horace & Nick The Stars, and Penny Apologizes


Barry Cooper had a nice piece on Shaq staying silent after it would be clear that the Magic (Who acquired the #1 pick through the Draft Lottery) would select him in the coming weeks. O'Neal's agent, Leonard Armato, was very calm about the situation and how Shaq and his family were looking forward to joining the franchise. However, there was still the worry of monetary commitment and Shaq possibly not entering the Draft at all.

Brian Schmitz made a good point when he mapped out the importance of picking Shaq in the '92 Draft. Yes, it would be a hefty price, but it was clear what that it would be well worth the future playoff success to come. Orlando would know longer be under the shadow of Disney.


Nick Anderson overcame a lot to come up big in Orlando's Game 6 road victory (and series clincher) in the 2nd round of those playoffs over Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Nick had a poor Game 4 and 5, and his father was thrown out of his home with his belongings on the streets. Nick got it together and showed toughness on both ends of the court when the squad needed it. The team finished their triumphant win on a 14-0 run in an epic comeback that was strongly influenced by Anderson.

However, despite Nick's personal woes, Horace Grant was the bigger story. He literally was the reason why Orlando won the series. Not Shaq, and not Penny. Ho Grant had a phenomenal first 5 games of that series before a bad pinky hampered his Game 6 performance, with Grant sitting out the end of the contest. Horace would get carried off the court by the team after the buzzer sounded, something Chicago fans were not happy about.

''I felt 10 feet tall out there,'' Grant said. ''I didn't have a very good game, but they (teammates) had my back covered. This feels great. To come back here and win brings me tremendous satisfaction.''

Grant sustained possible ligament damage in his left little finger, chasing him off the court in pain in the third quarter. He played his worst game of the series, ineffective much of the way. He asked out of the game in the closing minutes.

Yet it was a wonderful night for him.

He played 37 minutes, hit 2-of-8 shots for six points and had six rebounds, but it felt like a 20-point, 20-rebound performance to him. When the game ended, Grant was hoisted up on the shoulders of his teammates, and he raised his arms victoriously. Some of the Chicago fans booed. He waved happily.

''I was looking for (Bulls General Manager) Jerry Krause,'' he said. ''There's something I wanted to tell him.''

The Bulls' Michael Jordan had something to say after the game, too. Asked what the Bulls would need to rebuild and get back into the championship round, Jordan said, ''We're a Horace Grant away.''

Grant left the Bulls this summer after seven seasons and a bitter dispute with Krause. Grant felt the Bulls' management never appreciated his contributions though the championship years. That feeling simmered through this season.

He signed with the Magic as a free agent in September, touted as the missing link for a young and talented team that badly needed his rebounds, defense, leadership and championship know-how. Through much of the series, he looked like the key component, something the Bulls were lacking and something the Magic had.

''He was our MVP in this series,'' Magic center Shaquille O'Neal said. ''This win was for Horace. He was the key to this team. He was hitting shots, getting rebounds, playing with a broken finger. He was big throughout this series. He deserves this.''

Grant averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and 70 percent shooting through the first five games of the series. While the Magic's young stars went up and down through the series, he was their steadiest player.

''He doesn't have a shoe contract, or a rap album, but he's the man,'' O'Neal said. ''He proved through this series how valuable he is to us.''


The end of the road for another Orlando superstar was near. Penny's relationship with the organization, community, and of course the media had been strained long enough after 3 rough years post-Shaq. Even after all of that, Hardaway still wanted to live and play in the same place that wanted him gone. He even called the Sentinel to proclaim his frustrations. This isn't a McGrady situation, the man didn't quit. Period.

No comments:

Post a Comment