Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Trading Places




How long until Orlando Magic fans start mentioning the "c" word?

Curses.

Yep, the Magic is quickly becoming one of "those" franchises. You know, the type of franchise that couldn't win a bet if you let it place a wager at halftime...of a blowout. If it wasn't for the year-round sunshine, it would probably rain every day down in Orlando.

First, Shaquille O'Neal abruptly left town much the way Babe Ruth left Boston to truly begin his legend.

Then, Grant Hill arrived to serve as franchise savior, only to become one big season-ending injury.

Now, Tracy McGrady, the Magic's link to the NBA, is gone. And please don't tell me Steve Francis is some sort of consolation prize. He's more like a ribbon you get simply for competing then quickly toss in a baby box to never think of again. Admit it, you had tons of these.

OK, OK, Francis isn't that bad, but he's not the type of player you want to build a struggling franchise around, despite what he might tell you. Francis is Pippen, with MJ's ego. Pippen was great and all, but you wouldn't want to build a franchise around him either.

Man, that Grizzlies jersey must not be looking so bad to Stevie Franchise now, huh?

Come on, you have to admit it's kind of hilarious that, just when the Rockets are looking like contenders for the first time in years, Francis is being shipped one step above the CBA. The Magic is bad, and it's going to get worse. Where once he had Yao Ming, Francis will now have a high schooler, Dwight Howard, to avoid passing to. Where once he had Jeff Van Gundy's frantic clipboard diagrams to ignore during timeouts, he'll have...

You know what? I don't even know who Orlando's coach is. Man, it's going to be ugly.

The basketball gods are surely laughing at the perverse justice of it all. See Francis shoot, see Francis drive, see Francis shoot and drive again, see Francis miss the playoffs. The gang at TNT is always looking for guest studio analysts during the playoffs, right? Francis seems telegenic...in a Nick Van Exel sort of way.

McGrady, meanwhile, should go from the NBA wastelands to title contention. The Rockets immediately become major players in a Western Conference that doesn't seem nearly as daunting as it did before its conquerors, the listless Lakers, were unmasked as frauds. Ming-McGrady (or is it McGrady-Ming?) instantly compete for the title of the NBA's top duo. I'm really happy for Yao in this deal. I can't help but root for his success.

Thing is, McGrady doesn't drag around the "selfish" tag despite having more freedom to score in Orlando than a porn star. At least he doesn't deserve it. McGrady should appreciate Yao's domineering presence in a way that Francis' ego would never allow him to. He should have a lot more success too.

Stevie Franchise?

Hey, at least NBA fans in Vancouver finally have something to cheer about. They gotta love this turn of events.

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