The Fan Voice: "25 Years of #25”

By Live or Die Magic | November 7th, 2013

It is no secret that Nick Anderson is my favorite Magic player, past or present. Several years ago I wrote a piece in which I made a case for his #25 jersey being retired by the team. Tomorrow night, while hosting the Boston Celtics, the Magic will honor Nick Anderson as part of its season long 25th anniversary celebration. I assume the appreciation shown to Anderson will be similar to what Tracy McGrady enjoyed last week. Considering what has transpired since I first wrote about retiring Anderson’s jersey, I feel it is even more fitting now that he be the first player to receive this honor. For many seasons, Dwight Howard was viewed as the person most likely to have his jersey retired by the team. That’s seems much less likely now. Jameer Nelson is viewed as another possibility, but if the rumors are true, there is a chance he won’t be on the roster by season’s end. Meanwhile, Nick Anderson continues to be a part of the Magic organization and continues to be as much a fan of the team as any of us. Think about that, guys. He isn’t just an employee of the organization; he is a fan of the team!  

I’ve heard the dissenting opinions about how Anderson’s career numbers and accolades do not merit the honor. But I feel it is pointless to try to compare his numbers to players on other teams who’ve enjoyed the honor. Why should there be universal, league-wide criteria for this? It is opinion based, much like all-star and MVP voting. Even the basketball hall-of-fame does not have clear cut criteria for what makes one person deserving over another. Each NBA team makes its own decisions in this matter. If there is some agreed upon criteria within the organization for how and when a player deserves this honor, they haven’t shared it openly. If we are waiting for a player to play ten seasons with the Magic and be voted to multiple all-star games, we may be waiting a long time. This doesn’t change the fact that Nick Anderson is deserving of the honor.  

Whether it ever happens or not, the Magic faithful will continue to show Nick the appreciation he deserves, and I’m very thankful toward the Magic for allowing us the opportunity to share that appreciation before the entire Amway Center.    

What Tanking?
I think we can put to rest all of that talk about tanking. The whole concept of tanking is nebulous at best, murky at worst. It isn’t an idea you can instill in an organization from top to bottom, and the fan base besides. Even in the scenario where ownership and upper management would prefer to lose in order to get a more favorable pick, influence begins and ends with the players acquired. They cannot coach the games themselves. And in the scenario where a coach limits the minutes of his more polished veterans, his influence ends at the sidelines. He cannot tell his young, hungry players not to try hard and give their all on every play. Finally, even if the fan base buys in to the idea of needing to get just a bit worse in order to get way better, nothing can prevent the excitement of watching a group of early 20-somethings take down a supposed title contender. Inevitably, the Magic may end up in the draft lottery again this year (though likely not with a top-3 pick); but it won’t be because of tanking. Sure, the thought of grabbing a top pick in next year’s loaded draft is a nice one, but that is 8 months away, and meanwhile, we’ve got a Magic squad more than deserving of our praise and attention.    

Poor Lakers Fans!
Is it wrong that I’m getting such enjoyment out of Lakers fans’ continued, sustained negative reaction to Dwight Howard leaving for Houston? I mean, how can something that feels so good be wrong? Lakers fans are a privileged bunch and have rarely had to suffer through the pains of rebuilding or mediocrity. They will get zero sympathy from Magic fans who have twice watched them take a prized center away from this franchise. It is about time that Lakers fans experienced a similar feeling of betrayal. Of course, it isn’t likely that the Lakers stay down for too long. Knowing the Lakers luck, they will score in free agency next season and be right back up among the best. So, I guess we should take pleasure in their pain while we can!  

Trade Wins
Remember all of those times when the Magic made a trade and all the pundits said we got the bad end of the deal? I doubt we will be hearing that type of analysis anytime soon. The Orlando Magic are the only team involved in last year’s Dwight Howard trade that still employ any significant pieces from it. Dwight left the Lakers; Andre Iguodala bolted the Denver Nuggets, and Andrew Bynum left the Philadelphia 76ers without ever playing a game for them. Meanwhile, Maurice Harkless and Nik Vucevic are both starters for the Magic. Vucevic will make a hard case to both the voters and the coaches to be a participant in this season’s All-Star game and Harkless looks bigger and way more confident on the court as a 20 year old. While those other three teams seemed to make a bigger splash with all-star pieces, the Magic planned for the future. Of course, who expected this high level of contribution so quickly in our present?    

Tight Rotation
Coach Jacque Vaughn likely laments having players such as Solomon Jones, Glen Davis, and especially Tobias Harris injured, but one benefit is that he is already being forced to use a tight rotation. In the past three home games, all wins by the Magic, Vaughn has been able to use only 10 players. When you consider that back-up point guard Ronnie Price only played 7 total minutes in the three wins, it really is a 9 player rotation, with most players playing between 20 and 35 minutes. This has enabled Vaughn to get his younger players significant minutes and allowed him to keep his older players (namely Nelson) fresh. Considering how well Victor Oladipo, E’Twaun Moore, Kyle O’Quinn, and Andrew Nicholson have played off the bench, there has been little drop off from the starters. In fact, as bench players, Oladipo and Nicholson are tied for 3rd in scoring and Nicholson is 3rd in shot attempts per game. There will be one or two players that see their playing time curbed once Harris is back, but for now, it is great to see so many different players having positive impacts and making the most of their opportunities.  

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