Winning cures everything. It can cause major media outlets to be forced to produce desperation stories to keep the Dwight Howard trade rumor mill alive. It can take the heat off a General Manager and Head Coach that helped put this Orlando franchise in the 2009 NBA Finals, and what led to the subsequent raising of the bar in expectations. Winning can erase a streak of seemingly inexplicable bad luck and decision making. Winning can make your team's fears and insecurities look minuscule in comparison to opponents and other cities stumbling out of the blocks while continuing to try and steal your superstar. Winning makes team unification that much simpler to accomplish.
No Jameer Nelson? No problem. At least for one 100-79 night in Charlotte. Chris Duhon and Larry Hughes are on the road to NBA point guard recovery. They showed energy and hustle that can easily mask a few bonehead plays. Pushing the tempo and making some nifty passes will set you up for almost certain success. When Jameer heals up, he'll go back to being the veteran floor general we need at this moment. Hedo Turkoglu is alive and kicking after what looked like a continuous decline following EuroBasket. Turk is looking like *knock on wood* the Hedo of a few years ago. When not shooting the ball efficiently, Turk is leaving his mark via rebounding and relaxing point-forward dishes. Turk is in a zone. No, not his zombie zone. Hedo's calmly getting the job done. Dwight is playing like '08-'09 Superman where defense and rebounding came first. With 48 rebounds in 48 hours and his 33rd career 20-20 game in his back pocket. Also, no technical fouls yet for Howard.
Ryan Anderson is averaging 19.5 points per game. I REPEAT, RYAN ANDERSON IS PUTTING UP ALL-STAR NUMBERS! When Ryno isn't going berserk from downtown or on the glass, Big Baby Davis is doing a lot of his own dirty work and drilling an 18-20 footer on occasion. Jason Richardson has the hops of a 25-year-old and is attacking the paint and rim at will. Remarkably refreshing. J.J. Redick is posting up 6th Man of the Year statistics and displaying phenomenal at-the-rim finishing prowess. Meanwhile, Stan Van Gundy is pulling a Zen Master. SVG is also smiling a lot more and seems to be enjoying this fun stretch. Van Gundy is coaching an underrated team for the first time since that Finals run. Don't think for a second he's not savoring it and looking to make a lot of people eat crow. I'm only scratching at the surface of what's been a fun past few days.
All Orlando fans can hope for is that the Magic keep winning. 3-1 and a little steam of momentum being produced from three straight victories is what we're looking at currently. A glimmer of hope. A pleasant distraction from the constant Dwight chatter. Definitely not a bad way to kick off on-the-court play with what has already been a high-tension '11-'12 campaign. This team should be falling apart. You had the Bob Vander Weide mini-scandal. Dwight demanding a trade several times (that hasn't changed). Fans were calling for the entire roster to be traded. Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith to be fired. Local figures, both significant and insignificant, jumping off the bandwagon. The franchise to be sold. Diehard supporters were looking to ditch their season tickets. Some of those are exaggerations, but not really.
Remember when Dwight being traded before preseason was almost a guarantee? Now the stories have focused to Dwight being traded before the trade deadline. I have a question: What happens if the Magic are somehow a top 3 team in the East? After all, God forbid this Orlando team become a contender and everyone's L.A. or Brooklyn pipedreams gets ruined. What if All-Star Weekend comes and Dwight's representing in Magic gear? What if Dwight's still in Orlando pinstripes once the March 15th trade deadline comes and goes? What happens if Orlando becomes the franchise in the driver's seat to re-signing D12 in the summer? So many questions and scenarios to be played out. All one can do is literally sit back and watch what appears to be a solid team displaying some awesome chemistry. No pressure opens the door to entertainment and happiness galore for 'We Are Magic' nation.
My Orlando Magic New Year's resolution is to savor what we put out onto that parquet floor. Happy New Year to those with any type of stake in the City Beautiful, be it personal, fiscal, or pure blue and white pride. It's ok to be cautiously optimistic with this 3-1 start, even if those wins came against the Rockets, Nets, and Bobcats. Our one defeat came after just 2 preseason games and a short training camp. Oh yeah, and it was in OKC who have one of the best fans and rosters in the league. David Stern and the league have given the Magic a fairly lenient schedule to start things off. Orlando has already won both second games of their 2 back-to-backs and the 3rd of their 19 back-to-back stretches already coming tomorrow. If the Magic can reach a 10-3 or 10-4 record, you'll see a lot of that Dwight trade rumor mill dissipate.
All photos are from Yahoo! Sports.