instead. Black and Blue's Orlando Magic Blog: July 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How Does The East Stack Up?

In the wake of the KG deal madness, every fan of a team in the East seems to be asking themselves the same question: Where does our team stack up now?

It's pretty a difficult question to answer as it's really anyone's guess how well KG will mesh with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. It truly is amazing how Danny Ainge pulled off this deal and revamped his team with so many blockbuster deals getting turned down in the NBA. If KG and his monster contract can be traded, then anyone can be. Kobe must be thinking this as he sucks his thumb and wets his diaper.

So where do the Magic stand in the east next season? That is completely open to interpretation, and I am open to your opinions, but for now (with an emphasis on for now, since there is much more time left in free agency...take note ESPN writer John Hollinger...) here is my ranking of the East next season:

8)New Jersey

Detroit, Chicago, and Boston at the top of the list...did we just flash back to 1990?

Some of my reasoning behind my madness, again all opinions:

1)Detroit at the end of the day is still the most fundamentally talented team. They now have an even bigger chip on their shoulder after last years' playoffs.

2)Chicago will only get better in time as their young pieces develop, and they should make a run at the top spot. I expect Tyrus Thomas to bust out.

3)With the KG deal, Boston clearly threw themselves at the top of the conference. Toronto and New Jersey could challenge, but it will be an uphill battle.

4)Yes, you read that correctly. I think that (provided we get another backup big man) the Magic have the pieces to win the Southeast. This isn't based on homerism, but instead based on the simple fact that Miami is aging poorly, Washington is still trying to unload its big men, and with all of the teams so close in record last season the Magic have done more than either of those two teams by far to improve themselves this offseason. Charlotte is still a little ways away from contention, but could surprise next season with a respectable record.

5)As mentioned, Miami is aging poorly and their offseason deals to get younger were pretty crappy at best (Smush Parker). With Payton and Shaq being spot starters and teams learning how to practically triple-team Wade, this team's record will only go down.

6)Washington is sort of a 'mini-Boston', as they boast 3 power players in Arenas, Jamison, and Butler, but they are still very thin down low. I expect this team to stay competitive, but their team isn't any better roster-wise than it was last season.

7)Cleveland is poised to take a fall in my opinion, as Gooden is more than likely out so they can sign Varejao and Pavlovic. This team is a prime candidate for the post-finals loss funk.

8)This was a very tough call between New Jersey and Toronto, but I went with New Jersey because the return of Nenad Kristic should more than offset the loss of Mikki Moore and they have more to prove after a season of injuries and a dismal playoffs showing. If they fail, expect the team to be blown up mid-season.

Notable exemptions:

Toronto - The league has had a year to figure them out, Morris Peterson's stong bench play is gone, and despite their record they looked very shaky at times last season. Their eyes will be on New Jersey all season because in my opinion only one will sneak in.
Charlotte - Getting Jason Richardson and resigning Gerald Wallace made this past offseason a good one, and I can see Charlotte raising some eyebrows this season. They are a very young team though and are still a season away from the playoffs, but I think this season they could challenge for a .500 record.
New York - This team continues to play with optomism despite...well...themselves. Zach Randolph will no doubt help the team out, but I don't think he will mesh as well as most do. I will also go on record as saying Zebo will get in legal trouble at least once next season. In fact, why don't we just start getting ourselves mentally prepared now?:

There still is more time in free agency left, so plenty of time to see these rankings change.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Erin Moves On To The Final Four/KG To Boston? Crapola.

First of all, congrats to Erin for moving on to the final four in the Orlando Magic Cheerleading Tournament! It was a tough matchup, but Erin squarely won as she captured about double the amount of votes as the next closest vote getter Deanna. She will go on to face April in the semis.

As for Magic news, the only thing really new today is Magic exec Alex Martins hinting at the possibility of an Orlando hockey team in the near future. I would bet this has a good chance of happening as I'd imagine there are more than a few owners around the country want to wash their hands of the losing-money league known as the NHL. I am a Devils fan since I grew up in New Jersey, but would be at a crossroads should this Orlando team come into existence. One thing that could swing my allegiance to Orlando: If the team names themselves something akin to the minor league hockey team the Orlando Solar Bears. Humor really wins out in the end, and I can see them going this direction. Maybe the Orlando Flamin-Goals?

I just got chills that name was so perfect.

Something that is NOT perfect is the rumor that Kevin Garnett might get sent to the Boston Celtics in the next 48 hours for a package including Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff's expiring contract, and Rajon Rondo. Also possibly included are Gerald Green and Sebastian Telfair. This would suck for many Eastern Conference teams in the short term as a trio of Paul Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen would return the tea party city to respectability again. Obviously Kevin McHale is just washing his hands of attempting to get anything of actual worth for KG, and is throwing his efforts behind eclipsing Isiah Thomas as the most inept GM of the past decade. Also, this trade would result in two things I hate probably more than anything else in this world:

1) Boston fans to suddenly come out of the woodwork and hop on the bandwagon as they are known to do (How many Patriots fans WERE there before Tom Brady? 3? 4?)

2) ESPN Columnist Bill Simmons to brag about how good his team is, but this time in basketball. Ugh.

Seeing as how the bags under Kevin McHale's eyes have effectively taken over his brain and are now telling him evil ways to mess up his team (McHale now looks like the Emporer from Star Wars now with a parted haircut), I see this trade going through. McHale would be even more popular in Boston beyond his playing time there because he would be essentially giving them a perennial title shot. This would make Orlando seem like a pretender instead of a contender as we'd be faced with the possibility of lining up Turkoglu on Ray Allen and JJ Redick on Paul Pierce with Howard and KG going at it. The matchup down low is a fair fight, but Turkoglu and JJ might look like swiss cheese in that fight.

The only bright side is that the Celtics would probably have to rebuild their team again in about 4 years since Pierce, KG, and Allen are currently 30, 31, and 32. The city of Boston would also have to pony up some money to put these around the stadium:

That is a small price to pay for that lineup though and Boston would instantly be a team that is feared.
Other than that, no real news in the world of basketball. The Heat signed Smush Parker to be their backup PG, which (despite Sentinel's account that Smush does well against the Magic) is a huge sigh of relief since the Heat were courting other, better players like Mo Williams. In addition, while it is old news it must be noted that the Magic are investigating getting PJ Brown or Chris Webber...but I seriously, seriously doubt they wind up in Orlando because those players are likely to either sign with a contender or go elsewhere for more money. I would put my money on a lower-tier player like Melvin Ely or at best Brian Skinner.
I hope I am wrong though and Otis works those negotiating skills on Webber and PJ. We seriously need help at PF.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Day After The Vote/Pick The Best Magic Cheerleader: Round 2, Part 2: Cherie vs. Deanna vs. Erin

I'd like to say I spent the entire night out partying and celebrating the vote going the Orlando Magic's way, but a few things deterred me from that:

-It was a Thursday and I had work the next day.

-It was midnight when the motion was passed, and that was pretty late to start partying.

-I live in New York City and since no one follows Orlando news here, pretty much everyone would think I was a madman if I was celebrating in the streets.

Still, I had a wonderful night's sleep thanks to the pleasant outcome of the vote so that is nice.

Thanks to everyone who had kind words to say about the blog yesterday. It was indeed rather tedious to follow the proceedings of the Arena proposal, but in the end the relatively large viewership (about 800 people) and outcome made it all worthwhile. Some of the nice comments by readers of the blog yesterday:

-"Thanks for all your hard work... I didn't have a lot of comp time today, so your blog is what kept me up to date."

-"Black and Blue, thank you for all you did. I really enjoyed everything."

-"Big props to B&B with a heck of a live blog to keep everyone up to date who weren't watching the live feed on TV or the internet."

-"I applaud your dedication, B+B"
Wow. Thanks a ton everyone.
On another note, out of all of the overjoyed quotes by Magic fans yesterday and today, one of them made me take notice. It was said by user dxwwf3 on

Practically spent all day keeping up with this stuff and in the end it's
all worth it. Could this summer have possibly been any better for the Orlando

Get the best NBA coach available? Check

Get the best Free Agent available? Check

Sign Dwight Howard to a large extension? Check

Get a new arena approved and assure the team will stay in Orlando? Check

Looking back on it, for all of the stuff that went bad with Darko, Billy Donovan, and our public relations image, this has been a fantastic summer for the team. I left last season a little downtrodden with the sweep by the Pistons, but the future does look bright for the team. We will have to be creative with signing people since we now have Dwight and Rashard's huge contracts, but luck seems to be on our side lately so I will wait until this free agency period plays out to make a decision on the overall success of this offseason. -It's looking pretty darn good so far though.

I know what you are thinking: "It's FRIDAY! Enough of this blah blah! Fridays are for the Cheerleading tournament!" Right you are. Let's take a look at where we are at in the 2nd round:

This week we are picking the best cheerleader of THREE to move on to face April in the Final Four. Since it is Round 2 you can now click on the cheerleaders' photos to check out more images of them to help in your decision.

Without any further ado, of the three, which Orlando Magic cheerleader do you prefer?

Who Do You Prefer?



Erin free polls

As always, please use the comments section for the reason behind your selection and have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Live Arena Vote Diary...Part 5: MAIN MOTION MANIA! THE MOTION PASSES!!!!!!!!

I'm holding my breath right now.

Holy cow. People are voting right now on stuff. They are amendments and whatnot. What does this mean? No friggin clue, but so far it has very obviously been voting that is 5 united out of the 7, which is a very good thing to see.

We might see the end of this arena proposal before the end of our lives!

Just jinxed it....Tiffany Moore is pulling amendments out of her butt. She is in full on bitch mode, with her comments taking on a pretty forceful nature. She is getting shot down, which doesn't seem to help her much.

Amendments are coming and going. It's about 11:30, so I'll make the executive decision to not get into them. All that matters in the end is if this thing gets done.
With that in mind. IT'S MAIN MOTION TIME! GO MAGIC!


Moore is a bitch. She says she hates the idea.
Segal says he loves the idea. Go him.

The crucial swing Marcy vote! She says she has gone back and forth...holding my breath...She is going with us! Yes! Very nice speech from her about liking the community pulling together

All those in favor...the 5 say AYE!

All those opposed...2 asses say NAY!


Remember on PTI on ESPN a year ago they said "Happy Trails to the Magic because it was a foregone conclusion that they were moving? Well...ahem...SCREW YOU, KANSAS CITY!!!!! YEEEEHAW!

Congrats everyone who is a Magic fan and everyone who is an Orlando resident. Truly a fantastic day in our history and I am so happy to have shared it with you all today. I am going to be visiting Orlando this summer and am fully prepared to fall in love with the city all over again.

God Bless You All And Good NIGHT!

Ummmm...okay. Live Arena Vote Diary, PART 4!

So I left at 6:30...Got some dinner...Got some drinks...Saw the Christian Bale movie Rescue Dawn...commuted all the way from midtown to the upper east side...

And the Commissioners still haven't voted yet?

Even worse, I come back and there are still a ton of talking heads saying the same thing over and over again: "If this thing gets approved, I would like _____"

The judges probably need a shoehorn to scoop them out of those chairs at this point. Like astronauts, they probably went to the bathroom in their suits long ago and I'm about 70% sure that Fred Brummer cannibalized Tiffany Moore while I was gone. This is madness.



Right now a guy is talking about how he had serious trouble getting his disabled wife to see Magic games because the facilities were so crummy. After a full day of talk, talk, talk, this guy's comments were the first ones that actually made me really think. He said the elevators were cramped and it was almost impossible to get her around. It's people like that that are the real ones that matter in the end.

And thus ends the public section of the day. Next up are the Commissioners talking about voting on the amendments.

Live Arena Vote Diary, PART 3!

UPDATE:, I thought that they were going to break when I signed off last. This is not the case.

Segal (the one I warned about last entry) asked the Orlando Convention Center folks what they thought of the venues and all hell broke loose. Apparently the Convention Center peeps are nervous of what the new arenas will do to the success of their establishment, and voiced it in a quite intelligent manner. This seemed to be somewhat of a negative mark, but wasn't really that big of a deal.

Well, next thing you know, Mr. Watson (Barney Gumble) comes running out and starts shouting that updating Amway Arena was priority 3d and that the other things that the Convention Center people are mentioning are around priority 19 for the Commission. After smiling over how coincidental and neat it was that updating the Magic's arena was priority 3d (Dennis Scott's old nickname), I was brought back to reality by Mr. Watson's yelling.

After such a nice, well-put presentation by everyone, Mr. Watson and his mustard yellow slides is in danger of screwing it all up.

-Wow. Like a beacon of light, Marcy (Teresa Jacobs) has said some really wonderful things about the excitement the venue would cause. We have her vote and then some.

Right now, barring a crazy showing by Mr. Segal, we have this thing won with 5 out of 7 votes.

Hey! They just FINALLY called for recess. Thank goodness! On a related note, I unfortunately am going to have to run to catch this movie. All the best and I will report later on tonight about the outcome of the vote.

Live Arena Vote Diary, PART 2!

Back for part two of the madness, which I'm realizing is becoming an increasingly grueling arena vote meeting. For some reason I really thought this would be a "Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am" type of vote...but these folks seem to need to draw this out despite the fact that they likely already have their minds made up.

Sounds fine to me. I like making fun of these sorts of things!

-Next to speak in front of the commissioners is a guy who is there to talk about the effect for the Orlando downtown area. If you need a visual, this guy looks like a bald version of former Knicks star and current sportscaster Walt Clyde Frazier (I love how nearly every photo of Walt that I could find had him in a pimp hat or surrounded by supermodels. Some people just live blessed lives.) This guy speaks better than Tim Daly Guy, but his powerpoint graphics are just pathetic. For those of you unable to see them, many of them are colored puke green and have computer clipart of people with glasses looking intently at computers. Wow! Excitement central, Walt!

-Man, everyone is REALLY hammering home the "Green, Eco-Friendly" aspect of the facilities. Somewhere Al Gore just celebrated by lighting up a joint, turning on some Grateful Dead, and eating an entire cheese pizza by himself.

-Next to speak is a tired looking woman who says she is the chief financial director of the project. She admits that the finances of the project have been controversal, and does her best to communicate with her body language "If this project has cost overruns, which it probably will, I'll see you on the unemployment line!" She then gives shout outs to others that helped her on the project, effectively dispersing the blame if the whole plan turns to shit. Nicely done!

-My brain just turned off during the financial discussion section. Long story short, they are doing their best to limit the load on taxes.

-Teresa Jacobs is warming up after the presentations. She now seems quite eager about the whole thing. Huzzah! Go Marcy! With her newfound smile, I'm telling you that the image I am looking at right now looks EXACTLY like this:

-Bill Segal says he too is excited about the project, but keeps talking about his own life and experiences. We appear to have found the prima donna of the bunch!

-Mildred Fernandez is speaking (and sounding like a bizarre mix between a hispanic accent and the Minne-sooo-ta accent from "Fargo") and commending Mayor Buddy Hackett. You can just see the anger on Fred Brummer's face next to her as it becomes increasingly obvious the arena deal has legs. Is Brummer the Emporer to Harris Rosen's Darth Vader? Not sure, but I probably need to play some sports so I can live with myself after all of these nerdy analogies...

-The last bunch of slow, brain-numbing powerpoint slides are concluding (I hope). A woman with long black hair who is on the arena committee is getting attacked by Fred Brummer and her eyes are bugging out like crazy. She looks like this guy:

For those of you not familiar with that guy above, that is Glazastik (bug-eyed one) and you can read more about him here: Too funny!

-Mercifully, after a while the bug-eyed woman (who seemed the most incompetent of the presenters so far) steps down and a "Mr. Watson" steps up to speak for a bit. We are told he will be the last person to speak before a half hour break and the public gets to ask their questions. It is now obvious that I will probably not get to commentate on the vote as it happens because I have to catch a movie at 7:30. Wow, who would have thought this thing would have gone so long?!

-Whoa...Mr Watson has some AWFUL powerpoint skills. Plain mustard yellow background with blue font. When I woke up this morning, the last thing I thought I would be doing is critiquing powerpoint skills. Life has truly hit a new low on the excitement scale. As I type this, Mr. Watson tucks his shirt into his pants and continues. He is a very unkempt looking man with swept grey hair, sorta like Barney Gumble from the Simpsons in his older years. I am a New Yorker, so I have no idea if this guy is some corporate grunt or a billionaire integral to the case...all I can do is talk about his fashion sense. In the end, that is the most important thing.

Break time! With it nearing 6pm and me having to leave at 6:30 for the movie (which, by the way, is that Christian Bale movie), I just hope I can catch some of the public questions. The wild card now, in my opinion, is Segal since he appears to like the spotlight and could screw over a lot of people (and make a big name for himself in the local media) by changing his vote. Chances are I won't see the actual deciding vote at this point, but seeing that Marcy now appears to be on our side I will go out on a limb and say this one is in the bag. Thank heaven for Charles Schultz.

It's Live Arena Vote Diary Time! Complete Coverage PART 1

Well, here we are...on the precipice of Orlando Magic history. Either this thing is going to go fantastically well or horribly wrong. -Votes are like that.

As many of you already know, we need 5 of 7 votes for this thing to pass through. Early word is that there are 2 commissioners of the 7 that are already pointing their thumbs down in this Roman Gladiator matchup: Fred Brummer and Tiffany Moore. Fred Brummer just hates the projects and wants them squashed while Tiffany Moore wants the proposal altered significantly before it goes through so there aren't any holes the commissioners have to clean up in the future.

Using the absolutely nonexistant prior knowledge that I have of these two commissioners, I will attemp to explain why they have sour grapes: They just have awful names.

Fred was probably teased a lot in school with a name that sounds so much like "bummer", and used that hatred to nix votes from the popular crowd. Can you imagine a little kid walking around during the heyday of "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" with people slapping him on the shoulder and saying, "You're name is Fred? Brummer, dude!" To make matters worse, the people making fun of him probably looked like this:
As for Tiffany Moore, I firmly believe that most people named "Tiffany" hate the 80s pop star of the same name. The fact that her last name is "Moore" only makes it worse. It's like having a name that demands more of the pop star, akin to other names like "Prince Marathon", "Madonna Please", and the increasingly popular "Seal Letmelistentomore". It's like that scene in "Office Space" where the guy named Michael Bolton is being asked if he likes the famous Michael Bolton's music. I see Tiffany Moore in a seat, uncomfortably saying to her eager friends "Yeah...I guess Tiffany's music is alright. A favorite song? I really don't have one."

In related news, the Tourism Development Council voted on the arena issue today, which is interesting because the council happens to have Darth Rosen as a member. Here is how it went:

The Tourist Development Council voted 7-1, with hotelier Harris Rosen the only
dissenter. Rosen typically uses his appointed position on the advisory board as
a platform to blast what he considers irresponsible spending. The outspoken
venues opponent was silent today, however.
That's because, if you read the blog entry yesterday, you know that the Magic effectively stuck a spiked barb up Darth Rosen's rectum with their actions yesterday. Score one for the good guys.

So things are looking pretty good so far for the vote. The last minute deals by the Magic have hopefully swung commissioners Stewart, Fernandez, and Segal onto commissioner Crotty's side. That gives us four. The deciding vote apparently will be Teresa Jacobs, whose picture above reminds me of someone. I'm trying to put my finger on it...
The good news for us is that Mildred Fernandez is likely to be on our side, and looks like Peppermint Patty.

Whoa! It's almost time already! Everyone cross their fingers, rub your lucky rabbit's foot, and for heaven's sake someone please tell me they slept with Teresa Jacobs to get her vote!


So I called it: The Sentinel's player sucks ass. I can't hear any audio and the video freezes after about 10 seconds.

Instead I am going over to the television station WESH2's streaming player, which appears to work a lot better. I loaded it into my VLC Media Player. Phew!

-The proceedings thus far are akin to something that looks like show an tell at the front of class. A bunch of older gentlemen and ladies are gathered listening to a bunch of youths talking about the venues with powerpoint presentations. Even the graphics in the powerpoint presentation look pretty old, like something out of the 80s. All of this is pretty silly looking, as everyone knows that these commissioners have already made up their minds. I hope no spitballs are thrown.

-They are showing the inside of the proposed new arena. Tons of natural light and space. Holy cow it looks gorgeous. The thing even has PLAYGROUNDS for kids inside of it! Too bad we got rid of Diener, as he would have loved playing on the monkey bars.

-I didn't know that the arena would be the first one in history to be certified as being eco-friendly and green. Looks like the Magic can make history for something other than 'most stars applied to a logo in an effeminite fashion'. Alex Martins, the guy we've been talking about for a little while now, put on a green hat to illustrate this. One of the commissioners (sounded like Tiffany Moore) burst out laughing at him. Your Orlando Magic: Giving chuckles during key arena proposals!

-Alex Martins looks like a slick salesman type, complete with gelled hair and content smirks. I wouldn't trust him if he weren't a Magic exec...heck, I still don't trust him. Stay away from my fiancee, Martins!

-Moore and Brummer are grilling Martins about the Magic. Martins is telling them that the Magic will be around during the life of the stadium. Don't these two read the newspaper?

-Mildred Fernandez commending Martins, with some flirty words about how good of a job he did (Did Martins sleep with her? Ewwww). Commissioner Bill Segal makes an appearance, looking like a more haggard Bill Gates, which I didn't even know was possible.

-Marcy, I mean Teresa Jacobs, still seems a bit guarded. I really worry about her vote.

-Linda Stewart says thanks to Martins. She seems like a nice mom type.

-Next to speak is...some dude who is wearing a green jacket to speak about the stadium going green...who looks EXACTLY like Tim Daly from "Wings". He is a guy talking about the citrus bowl and is showing pictures of some of Orlando's founding fathers. -Are we SURE that this isn't a show and tell presentation? If someone presents a house made of popsicle sticks I am turning it off...
-This Tim Daly guy sounds incredibly boring. After the relatively swagger-riffic presentation by Martins, this guy is killing the mojo in the room. "Tim Daly Guy" is definitely a meathead guy who got where he is on his looks. The commissioners just asked if he could stay into the evening hours to answer their questions. Ummmm...I have plans with friends tonight, so I might have to pick this up later on if it goes long.
Taking a quick break. Next: PART II!

Live Meeting Diary Of Arena Vote Later Today!

Today during the Orlando Arena vote I will be publishing a live diary of the proceedings (if the Orlando Sentinel Streaming Video works).

Stay Tuned on what will be one of the biggest decisions in Orlando Magic history!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Magic Throw More Money Into The Community Fire To Try To Push Arena Proposal Through

Sounds like the Orlando Magic read my blog yesterday, because first thing mentioned today in the Sentinel is that the Magic opened up the ol' tight wallets and pledged to burn at least 12.5 million on new gyms in the Orlando area. In addition, the Magic pledged the money necessary to make the new arena eco-friendly. This is somewhat in keeping with exec Alex Martins' words yesterday that the Magic weren't planning to directly toss more money into the arena...instead they threw it into the community and to the fringe costs of making the arena more efficient (and thus more cost-effective in the long term).

I am but a casual observer, but reading between the lines this plan seems to have three objectives:

1) First and foremost the Magic are trying to directly appeal to some of the County Council members' wishes. Mildred Fernandez and Commissioner Bill Segal wanted more money into the community, specifically with the aformentioned gyms. Commissioner Linda Stewart wanted assurances of an eco-friendly arena. Sounds like the Magic just bought themselves three crucial votes with their moves.

2) The Magic just stuck a spiked barb up the rectum of Darth Harris Rosen. How? Hotel Magnate (and repeat proposal killer) Darth Rosen was planning on screwing up this proposal by demanding that more money go into fighting crime in the area. This promise of gym centers is part of a plan to keep youths off of the streets and give them something to do with their time instead of, you know, killing each other. This is the equivalent of that scene in Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker chops off Darth Vader's hand and you just jump and yell, "Booyah! You're done!"

3) The Magic get off cheap. With the Magic proposing up front to give $50 million, they were well below the County Council's request of $100 million. Instead of meeting their demands by giving another 50 mill, they just gave an additional 12.5 mill and threw it directly towards the programs the council members were advocating.

It looks like the Magic are addressing the Council's demands creatively and intelligently, and with this additional promised money the weight is somewhat off of the Magic's shoulders for blame if the proposal gets shot down.

For those of you who prefer the bottom line: The Magic helped themselves the day before the big vote to see if they'd get a new arena. Sweet.

The Sentinel also ran a piece today in hopeful anticipation of the proposal being voted through on the success of teams that have new stadiums. Overall it was a long article just centered around the simple idea that teams do slightly better when in more up to date surroundings. Not much of a surprise there.

The one thing in the article I WAS surprised at was this:

Martins said the team currently loses about $20 million a year, but a new
building would help the Magic break even.

WOW! I had no idea it sucked so much to be an NBA owner. When a new arena deal that revitalizes a city helps you break even, you know you have it bad. -And the Magic are a relatively mid-range team when it comes to popularity! The Grizzlies and Hawks must lose enough money combined annually to feed every third world country. -or feed Rosie O'Donnell for an afternoon.

Updates will come as they happen, but for now we'll just wait patiently for the vote to happen at 2pm tomorrow to celebrate/mourn the fate of the Orlando Magic.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

City Council Approves New Magic Arena Deal/County Council Is Next!

One step closer: The Orlando City Council voted 6-1 yesterday to approve a $1.1 billion project for the new arena proposal. This is great news, but is not really surprising news as the city council has by and large been behind the project since the very beginning. Look how happy they all look yesterday. Not really much concern on their faces:

Also, looking at their faces it can be argued that if this were a movie, Buddy Dyer would be played by another famous Buddy...Buddy Hackett:

-Well, you know, if Buddy Hackett wasn't dead.

We already have Alan Alda playing "Darth" Harris Rosen. I like the fact that actors are practically casting themselves in these plum roles.

Back to the issue at hand, the voting is far from complete however. The city council vote was the easy part. Now the issue goes to the Orange County council, which is supposed to be harder to win over. That part will be the deciding factor as to whether this Buddy Hackett-Alan Alda blockbuster has a happy ending or a tragic one.

I read some things that set off warning alarms in my head that the vote might not go well. One major stumbling block is the fact that several county members want the Orlando Magic to put more of their own money towards the project. Some rumors have been surfacing that the Magic might toss more money in at the 11th hour to push the proposal through if there are conflicts related to it. Apparently the county council members had the same idea, and two of them had private meetings yesterday with Magic exec Alex Martins about the possibility of putting more money forward.

I think a lot of people are thinking that the Magic will eventually give up the extra cash, we'll get our stadium, and everything will be peachy. As with most headlines involving the Magic, nothing is ever that easy. This was the result of the private meetings yesterday:

But Martins turned away speculation that the NBA team might increase its
contribution of $50 million in upfront cash at the last minute to win
commissioners' support.The commission is expected to take up the issue at 2 p.m.
Thursday."We feel like we've conducted negotiations in good faith. . . . To say
we fully intended to get to the eleventh hour and make an additional
contribution is not a fair statement," Martins said. "Our goal this week is to
answer all the questions that commissioners have."

Two words sprang to mind when I read that: Uh oh.

If our team decides they want to play hardball, they could risk being the wedge in what is already a very difficult arena proposal to approve. If the Magic do come out as the party that screwed everything up, it would be yet another black mark on a summer that already has fans unsettled by the coaching and free agency calamities (Donovan's exit, Darko's ire, Grant Hill's middle finger to the Orlando fans, Rashard's gigantic contract, etc). The sad thing is that if the Magic are the stumbling block in the deal, it could be about 800 times worse than all of those aforementioned things because this is the only real event that has direct correlation to the fate of the team. The other botches were merely bad for the P.R. of the team, but this could actually force them into eventual relocation talks like the Marlins.

Sheesh. It's enough to make one's head spin. On the bright side we will know the results rather soon as the vote is to take place on Thursday. Up until that point, the Magic should do everything possible to woo those council members, including ponying up extra money in my opinion.

This vote is too important to lose.

Monday, July 23, 2007

April Moves On To The Final Four/Magic Arena Vote Nail Biting

A big congrats to April for beating Candace to move on to the final four in the Magic Cheerleading Tournament. I actually thought April and Candace were rather evenly matched, so it was a surprise to see that April had almost doubled the amount of votes as her competitor. The next matchup will be 3 cheerleaders going against each other to see who faces April in the semis, so things are only going to get more interesting.

In Magic news, it was a rather uneventful weekend. -This isn't a big surprise as the venue votes are this week and constitute one of the most important moments in recent Orlando history. Even more important to the readers of this blog, these 7 committee members hold the Orlando Magic's fate in their hands. If 5 of 7 of them support the venues, we can look forward to telling our grandchildren about the championships that Dwight Howard won for the city and take them to a game before we get special wheelchair access to Space Mountain. If the venues get shot down, it isn't the end of the world but doesn't exactly bode well. For those of you impatient folks like me, it also would mean waiting on knowing whether the Magic will be Orlando's to keep.

I typically don't laugh out loud at articles, but I did at David Whitley's take on the situation in the Sentinel yesterday. Whitley provides a very good commentary, and surprisingly funny 'what ifs' if the deal doesn't get done.

It is kind of embarrassing to be so nervous over a vote when the team it is supporting is rather popular (and becoming moreso season by season). I am used to watching the efforts of the Florida Marlins to get a stadium laughed off, but the Magic actually sold out games last year and are gaining respectability in the league. Even the Sonics are somehow still in Seattle despite being bought by Oklahoma City investors, having a few awful seasons in a row, and routinely making the most moronic draft picks outside of the Hawks these past few seasons before they finally got Durant (the words on the bottom of the 2006 NBA draft screen still make me chuckle:

"With their first pick, Sonics select.....Saer Sene, C/PF.

Must Improve: Overall Basketball Skills"

-So how could our Magic be in the same conversation as these folks? Simple: Orlando is run from top to bottom by hotel and theme park magnates. It makes sense as those two things are the lifeblood of the city's economy, but those same things kill off any worthwhile unrelated project in the area. If Disney actually supported the Magic instead of distancing themselves, the Magic would probably have 80 stadium deals, including a seperate theme park devoted to improving Dwight Howard's free throw shooting. The trick for the Magic is to somehow convince the committee that these venues will mean more business for the theme parks and hotels. If David Stern has said that he will give Orlando an All Star weekend when they complete a new venue, you can bet that would shoot dollar signs into the eyes of the money men of Orlando. I know that I would make the trip down to see Vince Carter shoot off balance shots at the carnival games on the Universal Studios boardwalk.

Speaking of money men, it came out that someone tried to buy the Magic recently for 410 million dollars. Last year someone wanted to shell out over $100 million more than the club was worth to take control of the team. Rich Devos said no way, and I think we owe it to Rich that there even is an 'Orlando' next to the 'Magic' as a result. With so many non-NBA cities getting bigger and bigger cajones, there is a good chance that investor was from Kansas City, Vegas, Oklahoma City, Puerto Rico or somewhere else that is not in the state of Florida. The fact that this news is even coming out now is no doubt related to the Magic trying to tell the city of Orlando (with help from the newspapers) that they have been loyal and are asking for the same loyalty in return.

This venue talk is enough to get ones proverbial panties in a bunch. With the excitement leading up to the action, this no doubt will be a hot button issue in the days to come.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pick The Best Magic Cheerleader: Round 2, Part 1: April vs. Candace

No news today, as Otis Smith and company are probably just sitting by the pool drinking Pina Coladas, so that means we will begin the 2nd Round of the Magic Cheerleader Tournament! Also, it's a Friday, and we have a little tradition going.

You can just feel the excitement in the air...or maybe I'm just feeling the asbestos left over from the steam explosion in New York City.

Anyhoo, let's look at where we stand. We are down to the...not sweet sixteen...not elite eight...what the heck do they call the final ten? How about we just call them the "tubular ten", to borrow a phrase from the old Ninja Turtles cartoons:

No more easy choices here folks. April, Candace, Cherie, Deanna, Erin, Jane, Kasey, Kristina, Lisa, and Megan are all winners in their own right...but now we need to put some pretty faces on the chopping block and pick an overall winner.
A new feature with Round 2 is when you click on the photo of a Magic Dancer, it will direct you to that dancer's page on the Magic website for more photos to help make your decision easier! Woohoo!

The first matchup is between April and Candace. Which Magic Cheerleader do you prefer?

Who Do You Prefer?
Candace free polls
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stadium Vote One Week Away...What A Crazy Summer/Darth Rosen Trying To Stop Stadium Deal

The Magic's stadium deal vote is exactly one week away, and for all the good times we've had lately with free agency and the coaching search, suddenly things are quite serious since the outcome of this vote will effectively decide the team's fate for the significant future.

The Orlando Sentinel wrote today about a bunch of ways the Magic can help to push the stadium deal through. The basic thought is that if the Magic throw more money into the project, it will get done. Commissioner Mildred Fernandez requested the Magic make a contribution of 100 million and the Magic have pledged 60-75 million, so they could up that figure if it is a major stumbling block.

Speaking of stumbling blocks, one major one is hotel magnate Harris Rosen...who will heretofore be named Darth Rosen. This guy has pull within the politics of Florida and is opposed to the stadium and convention center ideas entirely. Rosen would prefer the money be spent towards fighting crime in Orlando.

At first, I was a bit torn to be honest. Rudy Guliani completely revitalized New York with his anti-crime movements and made the city a really safe place to live and work for me. As a shameless lover of the Orlando area, I wouldn't mind seeing the area be safe for years to come.

-Then, about one-tenth of a second after having this thought, I came to my senses. Darth Rosen was not only trying to take my favorite sports team away from me, but he was also trying to destroy a deal that would usher Orlando into mention with the top cities in America. Let's face the facts: compared to Miami and other major cities, the city of Orlando is still small-time. Getting a stadium and convention center would suddenly propel Orlando into a place that people had a reason to visit beyond the tourist attractions. I personally believe that it is this pleasant idea of the expansion of Orlando that is thorn in Darth Rosen's side. Nowadays people spend most of their time and money at hotels and theme parks, and those two places see almost all of the money. If people have a reason to go elsewhere to hang out, that is a lot of money Rosen's hotels stand to lose on being 'the only place to go in town'. When one looks at it this way, the anti-crime movements seem shallow particularly when it should be mentioned that primarily the tourist areas (Darth Rosen's areas) would be the ones receiving the bulk of it.

If this wasn't enough of a reason to dislike Darth Rosen, consider THIS: For those of you who saw "The Aviator", Darth Rosen looks exactly like the villainous Alan Alda:

If that's not concrete reasoning, I don't know what is.

As far as the fate of the proposal, the obvious question comes to mind "what if the thing gets shot down?" Sentinel reporters Mark Schlueb and David Damron answered this for us:

"Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's staff has been working on this proposal for two
years, and city officials have been negotiating the details with County Mayor
Rich Crotty's staff for the past year. The city has already spent $35.5 million
on land for the Orlando Magic arena and more than $1 million on consultants.
With that much time and money invested, don't expect Dyer, Crotty, the Magic or
arts patrons to give up if the vote doesn't go their way. They would likely go
back to the negotiating table, tweak the agreement and lobby commissioners
intensely until they line up the votes they need."

Even though that is somewhat comforting, as a guy who has been waiting for the Florida Marlins' stadium to get done for about 800 years I am still worried.

With the coaching search and free agency basically taken care of (the team is waiting in regards to making more free agency signings for the time being supposedly), it looks like this stadium stuff will hop in and take the drama spotlight. Hope things go well for the Orlando Magic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Megan Wins To Finish Round 1/Gortat Signed!/Augustine Is Camp Fodder/Who Else Is There?

Congrats to Megan for finishing out the first round of the Cheerleader competition in style with a decisive win over Sabrina. The candidates that are left to square off in round two look pretty fierce, and it's anyone's guess who will win. Check back for more of the competition as soon as there is a slow news day for the Magic.

Speaking of the Magic, they actually kinda sorta almost had a news story yesterday. Well, for Magic fans it was a news story, but for the rest of the world it was just a blip on the radar. The Sentinel is reporting that the Magic will indeed sign Marcin Gortat, as was speculated by Polish tabloids yesterday. This is following his stellar summer league showing and the much-publicized departure of Darko Milicic to the Grizzlies.

I am very happy with the move to get Gortat. My top reason, first and foremost, is that he looks like some sort of lizard with that long neck. Another reason is that we need serious help with depth at the PF and C positions, and with little money to spend this move just made sense. I think the agile-footed Gortat could thrive in Orlando, especially if we use an uptempo offense. The one thing I am worried about with him, as with every Euro big, is that he will be too raw offensively and get into foul trouble. This was the case with "Super" Mario Kasun and Darko when we first got him. Not-too-coincidentally, those two attributes are the things that scouts have said are the biggest knocks against Gortat. With his brand of hustle and penchant for blocking shots, it was impossible not to bring him over this year and I think the Magic will be quite happy they did.

The Magic also decided to keep James Augustine for training camp, but I believe that this is just a) insurance in case they can't land a big man free agent, and b) insurance in case someone gets hurt in training camp. Augustine had a few stinkers in the summer league and that typically doesn't equate into a roster spot.
On a side note: I'm not a fan of how Augustine traded in his shaved head and gotee look from college for his current, "Hi, class. I'm your new substitute teacher" look.

As for the remaining two roster spots (after Gortat signs), the Magic are looking for a veteran big man and there are some bargain basement options out there: Michael Olowokandi, Calvin Booth, Pat Burke, Kelvin Cato, Vitaly Potapenko, Brian Skinner, Iakovos Tsakalidis, Scot Pollard and Mike Sweetney. Out of those names, I could definitely live with Brian Skinner and Iakovos Tsakalidis, two decent former starters. Brian Skinner and Joe Smith actually formed a halfway decent tandem for the Bucks a few years back and word is that Skinner wouldn't mind playing for cheap. Preferably, I'd like to get a starting big man by the way of a trade with our expiring contracts and Hedo Turkoglu, but this seems unlikely:

"We're still short a big [man]," Smith said. "But I don't think you'll see
anything happen any time soon. It's wait-and-see time."

If you read between the lines, it's obvious that Otis just wants to see more of the Magic Cheerleading Tournament.