Sunday, August 21, 2011

On This Day, August 21: NBA Lockout Day 52 & Anniversary Memories


Here's Mr. Expansion Draft and a one-season Magic man big man Sidney Green reflecting on his memorable '89-'90 Orlando season, as well as of course mentioning the NBA Lockout. This was all in honor of the Magic's 10th Anniversary of existence.

Sidney Green - now the basketball coach at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville - kept very little memorabilia from his playing days with the Orlando Magic.

There is nothing on his desk or his office walls to remind him of the good times he had here.

He doesn't need any help.

``I'm not a collector of stuff like that,'' Green said Thursday. ``But I've got plenty of memories, and they are wonderful ones. They'll be with me forever.''

Green was the first Magic player - the first player taken in the 1989 expansion draft - and he will be featured prominently this season during the Magic's 10th anniversary celebration.

That first team didn't win very often, finishing 18-64, but it was symbolic of the Magic's place in the Central Florida sports community.

``It still seems like yesterday,'' said Green, who was at the news conference to announce the plans for the seasonlong celebration. ``The unbelievable love that people showed for the team was one of the greatest things I saw in my career. I do wish we could have won a little more.''

Green shared the stage with Pat Williams, the Magic's senior vice president who was instrumental in bringing an NBA franchise to Orlando.

Green played 10 years in the NBA with seven different teams - and only one season here before being traded - but the Magic are the team with which he still feels he belongs. Green lives in Winter Springs with his family, commuting to Jacksonville.

``I'm honored to be back because this franchise was such a special part of my life,'' he said. ``That's why this anniversary means something to me. I was part of the start of something very special.''

Green is beginning his second season at North Florida, an NCAA Division II school with plans to move to Division I.

He previously coached at Long Island University in New York. He retired from basketball after the 1992-93 season.

``The NBA has changed a lot since my day,'' he said. ``I just hope now that the labor situation gets settled, and they don't forget about the fans.

``The fans are what made it so special for me. I hope they don't make the same mistake baseball made.''

In the midst of a lockout with no end in sight, the NBA owners and players have been without a collective bargaining agreement since July 1. They remain far apart on major financial issues.

Both sides are awaiting an arbitrator's verdict next week on whether player contracts must be upheld during a lockout. The verdict could have a major impact on future negotiations.

A long work stoppage could spoil the Magic's 10th anniversary plans. They will be hold a variety of events before and during the season to commemorate the anniversary.

They will have promotions and community-wide contests for 10 days before the regular season begins - if it does.

``It's a chance for the fans to remember our storied history,'' Green said. ``And for a young franchise, there is a pretty good history here.''

One of Green's fondest memories of that first season was beating the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons in the first exhibition game at Orlando Arena.

``You would have thought it was the NBA Finals,'' Green said. ``The fans loved it.''

There also was the 15-game losing streak that first season. After the first nine losses, Green was so upset, he stopped talking to his teammates.

``I remember [teammate] Reggie Theus asking, `What's wrong with you?''' Green recalled. ``I said `Reggie, we've lost nine in a row.' He looked at me and said: `It wasn't my fault. They still love us.'''

The 10th Anniversary season, when it did finally begin, was pretty damn successful I'd say. It was the postseason that wasn't so good.

Here's Brian Schmitz being a major buzzkill about the team's history.

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