There is no Magic news today, but that wouldn't matter anyways as the top story in the NBA is a doozy: Top draft pick Greg Oden is expected to be lost for the season after exploratory knee surgery. Just when you thought the Blazers had really turned it around this happens. While sportswriters and commentators around the country will be bemoaning this as if Oden died, it truly IS a blow to a franchise that had high hopes for this season. During the NBA draft, I watched as the Blazers picked Oden and had visions of Tim Duncan going to the Spurs as that one key missing piece. For those of you who don't think that the Blazers were one step away from something special, take a look at this roster:
SF-Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw
SG-Brandon Roy, James Jones
PG-Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez
The reason I listed both the starters and backups is that this is a deceptively deep team. Przybilla, Frye, and Outlaw could be starters on many teams in the league, and the combo of young talent in Oden, Aldridge, and Roy could mature into a dynasty.
I'm not saying that this won't take place in time, but Oden's injury takes him largely out of development and meshing with his team for a season. With the grind of the NBA, especially on big men, a good career might last 12 seasons. That may sound like a lot of years, but considering the fact that those seasons constitute someone's entire career, losing 1/12th of them in a flash is agony. In the grander scheme of things, knee injuries are the equivalent of a warning label in the NBA and the Blazers now have to hope and pray this problem doesn't come back. For those who watched Chris Webber's apocalyptic fall from superstar to 'almost useless', you know what toll a bad injury can take over the long term.
With Grant Hill off of the Magic's roster, I find myself happy that I am unable to draw a comparison between the injury woes of the Blazers and the current Magic squad. For now, all of Orlando's players are healthy going into the year (not including Jameer Nelson's mental health after the sudden loss of his father). JJ Redick's back seems to be okay, Hedo's phantom flu thing doesn't appear to be around anymore, and Mario Kasun's presence won't cause fans to injure themselves (most notably by clawing their eyes out when he gets his 4th foul in 2 minutes). If you are reading this, I suggest you take the time out of your busy day to knock on some wood in the hopes that Dwight Howard stays healthy. If he is out for any extended period of time, the Magic are doomed with a capital D. No pressure, Dwight!
For now, let's just hope our guys stay healthy, and take some solace in the fact that playing Portland next season is no longer a (big) worry. Stan Van Gundy should now take this time to enclose his players in a soft, padded room with a sign outside saying, "Do Not Open Until 2007-8 Season". You can never be too safe.