All Great Things Come To An End



All Great Things Come To An End

By Josh Cohen
June 14, 2009


ORLANDO -- What a season it was.

No, the Orlando Magic did not capture their first NBA championship in franchise history. They did, nonetheless, have the kind of season that kids today will look back on when they are older and say, “I experienced ‘Magic’."

Orlando’s memorable 2008-09 campaign ended Sunday when it fell to the Los Angeles Lakers, 99-86, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Sure, it’s disappointing to not see the Magic win the title. But, we all know this year was exhilarating.

It’s kind of like going skydiving for the first time, experiencing an unforgettable ride at Disney World or even watching your son or daughter get married. Some words that describe this season are; invigorating, breathtaking, celebratory and blissful.

“We were a championship-caliber team,” J.J. Redick said. “We were division champions, conference champions, just not league champions. We have a lot to be proud of.”

Most say it really began when Dwight Howard was selected first overall by the Magic in the 2004 NBA Draft.

If you have followed the history of the NBA, you know that superior centers are the most important, yet most intricate, position to fill to have a championship-quality team. Just think of Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal and you will understand the significance.

‘Superman’ demonstrated to all of us this season that he is inching closer to reaching the plinth of interior dominance. He was an All-Star for the third straight year and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Howard’s extraordinary 40-point and 14-rebound performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers catapulted Orlando to its second Finals berth ever.

“I have a lot of confidence,” he said. “I’ve got a great feeling that we’ll have a chance to be back.”

Rashard Lewis, meanwhile, proved he is the player the Magic expected him to be when they acquired him in 2007. ‘Eagle Eye’ improved immensely during his second campaign with the club and earned his second all-time All-Star appearance.

We will always wonder what could have been if the Magic’s other All-Star, Jameer Nelson, didn’t get injured. Before suffering a torn labrum in his dislocated right shoulder, Nelson was having an outstanding season. Although not 100 percent, he still battled back and returned for The Finals.

But of course, with some bad news came some good news. In need of a veteran point guard while Nelson was recovering, the Magic managed to swing a three-team deal to acquire Rafer Alston.

“I’ll always remember the day I got sent here,” said Alston, who immediately gave the Magic a lift and showed in the playoffs he still has plenty in the tank. “From that day on, I’ve been all smiles. I’ve loved every bit of this team, this city and organization. It was great from day one.”

From overcoming several last-second heartbreaking defeats against the 76ers, Celtics and Cavaliers to suppressing various adversities and doubts, the Magic staged one of the most awe-inspiring playoff runs in league history.

Against Philadelphia, many critics shut the door on the Magic after they went down 2-1. Similarly, against the defending champions, they were labeled too inexperienced and too diffident late in games before dethroning Boston in seven games.

Orlando showed it can battle back from seemingly insurmountable deficits in the conference finals. In its three road games of the series, it erased double-digit deficits before thrashing Cleveland in Game 6 at home.

Although they weren’t able to have the same fortune against the Lakers, the Magic will certainly take this brilliant ride to The Finals into next season.

There is no question that the entire organization will be even more determined, even more focused and even more passionate about capturing the NBA title in 2010.

The team does realize, furthermore, that they can’t achieve their ultimate goal without you, the fans. Your contributions were essential to the team’s success.

Until October, let’s continue reflecting upon the special times we all had in 2008-09 and start anticipating taking the next step in 2009-10.

 PLAYER AVERAGES
              REBOUNDS  
 Player G GS MPG FG% 3p% FT% OFF DEF TOT APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
 Dwight Howard 79 79 35.7 .572 .000 .594 4.30 9.60 13.80 1.4 .97 2.92 3.04 3.40 20.6
 Rashard Lewis 79 79 36.2 .439 .397 .836 1.20 4.60 5.70 2.6 1.03 .65 2.00 2.50 17.7
 Hedo Turkoglu 77 77 36.6 .413 .356 .807 .60 4.70 5.30 4.9 .83 .25 2.65 2.80 16.8
 Jameer Nelson 42 42 31.2 .503 .453 .887 .50 3.00 3.50 5.4 1.21 .07 1.98 2.90 16.7
 Rafer Alston 29 28 29.5 .413 .317 .707 .30 2.60 2.90 5.1 1.76 .10 1.79 2.20 12.0
 Rafer Alston (TOT) 77 76 31.8 .385 .338 .750 .40 2.50 2.90 5.3 1.40 .13 1.82 1.80 11.7
 Mickael Pietrus 54 25 24.6 .413 .359 .709 .80 2.40 3.30 1.2 .57 .44 1.04 2.30 9.4
 Courtney Lee 77 42 25.2 .450 .404 .830 .20 2.10 2.30 1.2 .99 .18 .90 2.00 8.4
 J.J. Redick 64 5 17.4 .391 .374 .871 .10 1.60 1.70 1.1 .33 .02 .84 1.10 6.0
 Anthony Johnson 80 12 18.5 .404 .391 .753 .40 1.50 1.80 2.5 .58 .06 1.03 1.40 5.3
 Tony Battie 77 3 15.6 .489 .222 .659 1.20 2.40 3.60 .4 .34 .32 .60 1.50 4.8
 Marcin Gortat 63 3 12.6 .567 1.000 .578 1.50 3.00 4.50 .2 .29 .84 .40 1.80 3.8
 Jeremy Richardson 12 0 7.8 .286 .353 .500 .10 1.10 1.20 .3 .00 .00 .25 .50 3.1
 Tyronn Lue 14 0 9.2 .395 .353 .667 .00 .80 .80 1.0 .14 .00 .14 .90 3.0
 Tyronn Lue (TOT) 44 0 11.8 .438 .435 .737 .10 .90 1.00 1.4 .18 .00 .52 1.20 4.2
 Adonal Foyle 9 0 6.6 .636 .000 .500 1.00 1.90 2.90 .1 .00 .89 .33 .40 1.9
 Adonal Foyle (TOT) 10 0 6.2 .636 .000 .500 .90 1.70 2.60 .1 .00 .80 .30 .50 1.7
Team Averages 82 0 240.6 .457 .381 .715 10.0 33.3 43.3 19.4 7.0 5.4 13.9 20.3 101.0
Opponents 82 0 240.6 .433 .342 .755 10.5 31.6 42.1 18.1 6.9 3.8 13.1 22.4 94.4


 PLAYER TOTALS
              REBOUNDS  
 Player G GS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OFF DEF TOT AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
 Dwight Howard 79 79 2,821 560-979 0-2 504-849 336 757 1,093 112 77 231 240 270 1,624
 Rashard Lewis 79 79 2,859 478-1,089 220-554 225-269 92 361 453 205 81 51 158 194 1,401
 Hedo Turkoglu 77 77 2,815 423-1,025 134-376 314-389 45 365 410 375 64 19 204 218 1,294
 Jameer Nelson 42 42 1,309 267-531 82-181 86-97 20 125 145 226 51 3 83 123 702
 Courtney Lee 77 42 1,939 243-540 82-203 78-94 18 160 178 91 76 14 69 157 646
 Mickael Pietrus 54 25 1,329 176-426 80-223 78-110 44 132 176 65 31 24 56 126 510
 Anthony Johnson 80 12 1,481 154-381 52-133 61-81 29 118 147 200 46 5 82 111 421
 J.J. Redick 64 5 1,111 117-299 67-179 81-93 8 101 109 73 21 1 54 72 382
 Tony Battie 77 3 1,202 158-323 2-9 54-82 92 186 278 31 26 25 46 112 372
 Rafer Alston 29 28 856 123-298 32-101 70-99 8 75 83 148 51 3 52 63 348
 Rafer Alston (TOT) 77 76 2,447 316-820 112-331 156-208 33 194 227 406 108 10 140 135 900
 Marcin Gortat 63 3 794 106-187 1-1 26-45 96 190 286 14 18 53 25 111 239
 Tyronn Lue 14 0 129 17-43 6-17 2-3 0 11 11 14 2 0 2 13 42
 Tyronn Lue (TOT) 44 0 521 71-162 27-62 14-19 6 40 46 60 8 0 23 54 183
 Jeremy Richardson 12 0 93 14-49 6-17 3-6 1 13 14 3 0 0 3 6 37
 Adonal Foyle 9 0 59 7-11 0-0 3-6 9 17 26 1 0 8 3 4 17
 Adonal Foyle (TOT) 10 0 62 7-11 0-0 3-6 9 17 26 1 0 8 3 5 17
Team Totals 82 0 19,730 2,929-6,416 817-2,147 1,611-2,253 819 2,728 3,547 1,593 570 439 1,142 1,664 8,286
Opponents 82 0 -- 2,936-6,785 444-1,297 1,421-1,882 864 2,591 3,455 1,488 564 308 1,072 1,840 7,737