At least one Orlando Magic writer really, really let his imagination get away from him after Orlando’s clean sweep of the first two rounds. Josh Cohen has already anointed Orlando as one of the greatest teams of all-time. (OrlandoMagic.com)
I know the Eastern Conference Finals hasn’t even started yet, and I know to be categorized as a “superior” all-time team you must win the grand prize first.
But, after two rounds of the playoffs, it may be reasonable to believe that the Magic have the opportunity to be remembered as one of the best Eastern Conference teams of the past decade and even one of the greatest in NBA history.
Let’s take a step back there, Josh Cohen. This proclamation of yours is quite a bit premature, to say the least. Kind of like that dude in American Pie with that Nadia chick.
What have the Magic done so far? Won eight straight playoff games? Sweet, Josh Cohen. That doesn’t automatically make them the greatest thing since Bagel Bites. Let’s just recap why:
- The Magic weren’t even the #1 seed – Lest you forget, Josh Cohen, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the NBA’s best record and the East’s #1 seed. Hell, Orlando didn’t even make it to 60 wins. They finished the season stuck on 59, 13 wins less than Chicago’s record. By my count, 42 teams have won at least 62 games. 20 of those teams won titles. What, exactly, makes Orlando better than those 20 teams? Even if Orlando wins a title, why should they be considered greater than those teams?
- Who have they beaten? – Not to belittle their “epic” eight-game win streak to start the postseason, but who have the Magic beaten? A mediocre-at-best Charlotte Bobcats squad and an Atlanta Hawks team that was a perfectly bad matchup for Orlando. Atlanta’s best attribute is its athletic frontcourt, but playing against Dwight Howard completely mitigated that characteristic and makes it a disadvantage. Sure, sweeping both those teams was still impressive — I’ll admit that. It just wasn’t anything to bow down and kiss Orlando’s feet about. The Magic were supposed to smoke those teams.
- Who’s their go-to guy? – Do the Magic even have a go-to guy? Does anybody trust Vince Carter when the lights are brightest? I know Dwight Howard isn’t going to get Orlando any crunch-time buckets and — if Vince’s career is anything to judge by — he’s not very reliable come crunch-time either. I know it doesn’t seem like Orlando has missed Hedo Turkoglu too much yet, but there will come a time when they will. He was their best play-maker and always seemed to make big plays in the fourth quarter. Who does that now?
- Can’t they win a title first? – I know Josh Cohen mentioned that you can’t be mentioned as a “superior all-time team” until you “win the grand prize,” but this needs reiterating. Orlando hasn’t done anything of note yet. They came in second in the Eastern Conference in the regular season. So they swept two overmatched teams in the first two rounds. Big whoop. Does anybody think last year’s Cleveland Cavaliers are a “superior all-time team?” They had more regular season wins than this year’s Orlando squad, finished the regular season in first place, and swept the first two rounds of the playoffs. Want to know why they aren’t considered one of the best teams ever? They lost in the third round. Let’s make Orlando win something first.
Cohen then continues his ridiculously absurd column, posting all the Eastern Conference champions from this past decade that this season’s Orlando team would beat.
If you look at the past decade alone, I am already close to conclude that this Magic team is one of the most complete, most dynamic Eastern Conference teams in the last 10 years. Let’s take a look at the last 10 East teams to reach the NBA Finals:
I am confident the Magic would beat the 2000 Pacers, 2001 76ers, 2002 Nets, 2003 Nets, 2004 Pistons, 2005 Pistons, 2006 Heat, 2007 Cavaliers and last year’s Magic team in a seven-game series.
First of all, let me say that — of all these teams — only the 2004 Pistons and 2006 Heat won titles. Secondly, I’m not so sure the Magic beat either of those teams. Think about the 2006 Heat: Shaq in his almost-prime cancels out Dwight Howard, and Dwyane Wade that postseason was one of the best players in history. If you don’t remember, Wade was on an absolute mission that year. Do you think he was going to let Vince Carter or Matt Barnes was going to stand in the way of his title? Yeah the Magic are a more balanced team, but Dwyane Wade was an absolute serial killer that year. Throw Miami’s regular season record out the window that year — they didn’t care during the regular season, not even a little — and all of a sudden the Heat might have been better than Orlando.
As for the 2004 Pistons, I’m not sure they lose to this Magic team either. Ben Wallace was the world’s best defender at that point, and Rasheed Wallace was no slouch at either side of the floor. He wasn’t the Sheed we know and “love” today. On top of that, that Pistons team was balanced offensively and terrific defensively. They had weapons at all five positions and played incredibly well together. Are we SURE that Pistons team doesn’t beat this year’s Orlando squad, even though they took down Kobe and Shaq when both players were in their primes? No, we aren’t. Not in the least.
If the Magic wouldn’t definitively beat two of the weaker NBA champions in history, how can we say their one of the league’s best teams ever? Especially when they haven’t even won a damn title or even a regular season conference championship? WE CAN’T!, Josh Cohen, you damn fool.
Cohen then goes on to question whether the Magic might have been able to beat the 2008 Boston Celtics.
The only big question mark I would have is the 2008 Celtics. But remember, Boston that season was tested in every round. Atlanta and Cleveland forced the Celtics to seven games in the first two rounds and then Detroit and the L.A. Lakers took them to six each before they won the title.
I’ll save Cohen the time thinking about whether this year’s Magic are better than those Celtics: No, not a chance. It took the Celtics some time to get their playoff sea legs but they still won every necessary game. When the stakes were biggest, that Celtics team was at its best. They had one of the best defenses in NBA history and three superstars on offense. No way Orlando is better than that team. The 2008 C’s won 66 games and a championship, beating Kobe Bryant in the finals. So you can shove all your “tight series” talk up your ass, Josh Cohen, because Orlando isn’t better. It’s not even close. Again, all the Magic have done is finish second in the East and sweep two perfect matchups. Nothing to rewrite history over, I assure you.
Cohen then finishes up the piece with his biggest faux pas yet.
I am someone that loves to discuss what it would be like if all-time great teams from different years or different generations competed in a series. For instance, what would happen if the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72 wins) faced off against the 2000-01 Los Angeles (15-1 in playoffs)? Who would have a better series, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? Would the Bulls have any answer for Shaquille O’Neal? Which Ron Harper would show up (he played for both teams)?
I hope we can ultimately have this discussion about the 2009-10 Orlando Magic. It would be pretty awesome if in two months we start projecting what would happen if the 1995-86 Boston Celtics, for example, took on our Magic. Pretty cool, right?
No, Josh Cohen, it wouldn’t be cool if you projected what would happen if the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics took on your Magic. You wanna know why? Because your troops would get waxed. Stomped. Pulverized.
Does Vince Carter guard Larry Bird? Does Rashard Lewis guard Kevin McHale? I’m literally laughing out loud as I write this, thinking about the absurdity of even wondering whether the 1985-1986 Celtics would beat the 2009-2010 Orlando Magic. Yes, they would beat them. In fact, they would pound them. They would probably beat them almost as badly as the Magic just beat the Hawks.
As well as the Magic played in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they haven’t won a single thing yet besides the right to play the Boston Celtics. If they end up winning a championship, we can start talking about their place among the NBA’s best teams. Even then, they won’t be anywhere close to where Cohen is saying they are. This Magic team is a good team, very good even. But great, historically great?
Hell no. Josh Cohen must be thinking about the wrong 2010 Orlando Magic.