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I’ve been reading Dante (Alighieri, not Marchitelli) in my spare time. As you might know, his Divine Comedy is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Dante writes about himself and his passage through each.
Before I lose you, here’s what I’ve found: that old book from the Middle Ages has a pattern that matches the current Orlando Magic success plan really nicely.
Inferno (Hell): This would reflect the last two years. A .261 winning percentage (39-110), attendance plummeting from ninth in 2011-12 to 23rd this season, and a prolonged dearth of material for journalists to write and fans to talk about. In short, it’s just been hard. Hard to get excited for games. Hard to watch the growing pains of the players. Hard to see an end in sight.
Purgatorio (Purgatory): You could argue this was best represented during Dwight Howard’s last year in Orlando. (“Does he stay?” “Does he go?” “Depends on how the wind blows.”) But for the current team, Purgatory is what comes next. In the minds of most, next year is the time to start the process of winning games again. The Magic will have two high draft picks and money in the bank. The tide is expected to shift for the better, but there could always be more backsliding to be had, depending on the effort of everyone involved.
Paradiso (Heaven): I can’t tell you exactly how this one will look, only that no one should be expecting it for a while. It’s a matter of how high the crest of this era’s wave reaches before it has to crash and rebuild itself again. But to achieve much, you have to dream much, so let’s describe a Magic fan’s paradise: a place where young talent and energy takes the league by storm, a booming Amway Center with standing room only, and Orlando’s first championship. Of course, there would probably have to be a franchise star at the forefront of that team. At this point, not a single person knows exactly who that will be.
And with that, here are the top five Dante applied-out-of-context quotes for all you Magic fans out there:
“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.” (Inferno, Canto I, lines 1-3)
“Along the solitary plain we went
As one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.” (Purgatorio, Canto I, lines 118-120)
“To run o’er better waters hoists its sail
The little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel” (Purgatorio, Canto I, lines 1-3)
“… Forth returns whoever looks behind.” (Purgatorio, Canto IX, line 132)
“Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.” (Inferno, Canto XXXIV, line 139)
Or how about this for a potential halftime speech?
“We’re in the middle of Magic history, and things are pretty dark. In many ways, we’re floundering about and waiting for the path to success to be illuminated again. So we journey.
Hello, better waters; goodbye, cruel sea of losing streaks. Let’s not look behind us; there is nothing now but the future.
And in the end, we will emerge out of this fire to see the stars of greatness that we once new!”
That one was for free, Jacque Vaughn.