In a Blink of an Eye, a Rivalry Between the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat Has Reached New Heights
Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images
Welcome to Miami Thrice.
There are a number of nicknames that are being used to illustrate the union of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Some complimentary, some not. Yet there are a number of adjectives that can also describe the newly-formed trio. ‘Unpredecented’ is, perhaps, the most appropriate one to label an alliance that has shaken the foundation of the NBA at its core. Never before has the best player in the league during his time, whether it’s James right now or Michael Jordan back then (this group is close), united with talents like Wade and Bosh in the prime of their careers. It’s unheard of. Yes, there have been “Big Threes” that have been talented to varying degrees, but this triumvirate is in rarified air. And the epicenter of the earthquake that occurred yesterday was located in Miami and the tremors are emitting to Orlando.
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In one felt swoop, the Miami Heat have transformed themselves from being a playoff team to a title contender — regardless of the seven players that will be needed to fill out the roster (Mike Miller appears to be accounted for, alongside Mario Chalmers). Likewise, after three years of reigning at the top of the Southeast Division with no legitimate challengers to dethrone them, the Orlando Magic have to deal with the Heat. The irony is that Miami was in the same boat from 2005 to 2007, but didn’t have a challenge until the last year when the Washington Wizards finished three games behind them in the division. Just like the Magic this year with the Atlanta Hawks.
It’s been said elsewhere but even though the rivalry between Orlando and Miami exists, given that they’re in the same state, same division, and all that, the rivalry hasn’t seen many fireworks over the years. The playoff duel in 1997 is one to remember, and when Shaquille O’Neal joined the Heat in 2005, that stoked the fires of the rivalry a little bit. Sure, there’s some animosity between both franchises when head coach Stan Van Gundy chose to coach the Magic in 2007 and president Pat Riley demanded, and received, compensation to allow the transaction to go through, which strained the relationships of the two teams. Can’t forget the storyline getting set up in the first place after Riley “replaced” Van Gundy in 2006, ultimately leading Miami to their first and only championship. Of course, there’s the humorous history of players having played for both franchises at some point in their careers. A list that includes Ike Austin, Rony Seikaly, and others. The point is, there’s always been skirmishes between Orlando and Miami. That’s it.
The Magic and the Heat are elite teams. Together. Never before have Orlando and Miami competed for championships at the same time … until now. Rest assured, it’s going to be a bloodbath. A slugfest. A war. Aside from the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic and the Heat have the makings of being one of the most intense rivalries not only in the NBA but in sports in general. All of the elements are there and in a way, Magic fans should enjoy watching the drama unfold. ‘Beat the Heat’ becomes a relevant chant again, for instance. Miami has always been Orlando’s natural rival but it truly means something now. These are two teams vying for a title and three of the top five players in the league are going to be the actors in a script that everyone is dying to read.
So what does the Heat acquiring James, Wade, and Bosh mean to the Magic?
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The [Orlando] Magic on Thursday brought aboard Chris Duhon, a veritable minnow on the free-agent market, while the largest, meanest shark circled all around them. And that meant only one thing. They’re going to need a bigger budget. The Magic’s grand plan looked pretty good until it turned out that a prime-time news conference Thursday didn’t involve the President. LeBron James couldn’t really beat the Magic as a Cleveland Cav, so he announced he was joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a Holy Trinity of Superstars in Miami. Orlando has been out of the playoffs for more than a month, but this had to feel like another day the faithful needed cheering up. And to make matters worse, all this great fortune is heaped on Miami. If Stan Van Gundy feels as if the Heat are out to get him, can you blame him? The words from LeBron that had to make Magic fans cringe, ‘I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.’ ”
- Chris Duhon is excited to play for the Orlando Magic.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy: “I think that certainly on paper they have to be the favorite. You can talk about needing time and the whole thing. But face it, Boston did it in the first year with the three guys [Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce] together. As good as those guys are, they were a little bit older at the time. You’ve got three guys right in their prime. You have to make them the favorites in the East on paper. Then, Los Angeles, as the two-time defending champions, you can’t write them off.”
- Today, Rashard Lewis introduced his new baby boy to the world.
- General manager Otis Smith hasn’t seen a trade offer for Marcin Gortat that he likes.
- Duhon wishes the New York Knicks the best of luck in their future endeavors.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post has news and notes from Duhon’s press conference.
- Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse: “While many other teams are in a frantic mode, one of the NBA’s best outfits is content now to sit back and watch for a while. The Orlando Magic on Thursday did sign point guard Chris Duhon to a four-year, $15 million contract. But general manager Otis Smith said the Magic, NBA finalists two years ago and Eastern Conference finalists last spring, is now willing to be patient and see how things unfold in free agency.”
AP Photo/John Raoux
In a rather uneventful game that went down to the wire, the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 80-78 in the fourth day of the 2010 Orlando Pro Summer League. The Thunder were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Kyle Weaver had 21 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, Mustafa Shakur had 21 points, five assists, five rebounds, and five steals, Byron Mullens had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Ryan Reid had 12 points. Joe Crawford and Paul Davis continue their strong play for the Magic, as they finished with 17 and 18 points, respectively.
Because James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Eric Maynor didn’t play for Oklahoma City, some of the game’s appeal was lessened. The fact that the Thunder still won the game, despite missing three of their rotation players, speaks to the amount of talent they have on the roster.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic have signed free agent guard Chris Duhon, General Manager Otis Smith announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.
“Chris (Duhon) provides depth, leadership and stability to our backcourt,” said Smith. “He takes care of the basketball, defends well and can hit the open shot. We’re very happy to add Chris to our team.”
Duhon (6’1”, 190, 8/31/82) played in 67 games (59 starts) last season with New York, averaging 7.4 ppg., 5.6 apg. and 2.7 rpg. in 30.9 minpg. He led the Knicks in assists and was tied for fifth in the NBA in assists-to-turnover ratio (3.44, 378-110). Duhon led the Knicks in scoring twice and in assists 38 times. He scored in double figures 23 times, including a season-high 25 points on Dec. 4 @ Atlanta, and also recorded 10-plus assists four times.
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy likes that the Orlando Magic have the right to match any offer sheet restricted free agent SG J.J. Redick could sign with another team. Because Redick has played four consecutive seasons with the Magic, he’s considered a “Bird” free agent, meaning the Magic can pay him up to a maximum salary even though they are well above the NBA salary cap. Right now, the Magic seem inclined to bring back Redick even though it would plunge them further into the luxury tax. ‘I’m not worried about what J.J. might get from somebody,’ Van Gundy said Wednesday between games of the AirTran Airways Pro Summer League at RDV Sportsplex. “That would simply leave us with a decision, but the ball rests in our court. We’ll just have to make the decision when the time comes. Our intention is — and I know that from talking to [General Manager] Otis Smith — our intention is to match.’ ”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Free agents were allowed to start signing binding contracts at 12:01 this morning, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh already ended the speculation surrounding them. On Wednesday, Wade announced he’ll remain with the Miami Heat. Bosh declared he will sign with the Heat. ‘I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’re instant contenders to win an NBA championship,’ Van Gundy said. ‘It makes them very, very good and they still have a lot of money to fill out that roster.’ Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers expects the Bosh-Wade tandem will make his job tougher. ‘It just makes the East that much better, which is in some ways good and in some ways bad,’ Rivers said. ‘Listen, last year everybody chased Orlando because they were the defending champs. Now, this year, everyone will be chasing us. And everyone is fortifying their teams very well to do that.’ ”
- Against the New Jersey Nets in Summer League, Daniel Orton showed more effort.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy raves about Chris Duhon‘s passing and defensive ability, as well as his youth.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Magic’s goal the last two seasons has been to compete with the Lakers, Cavaliers and Celtics for the NBA championship, but now they must first Beat the Heat to even win a Southeast Division title. Hate to say it, Magic fans, but with Chris Bosh announcing Wednesday that he is joining Dwyane Wade in Miami, the Heat are now the new Beasts of the Southeast. They finished 47-35 last season — 12 games behind the division-winning Magic. Seems to me that adding Bosh, one of the top 10 players in the game, makes them at least a dozen games better than last season. And let’s not forget, the Heat still have cap room and flexibility to do even more during free agency. [...] Magic fans better hit their knees and pray that LeBron isn’t the final and fatal piece of the Heat’s free-agent windfall. If the ridiculously egotistical “King James” announces during his hour-long State-of-the-LeBron address on ESPN tonight that he, too, is joining the Heat then the Magic’s championship window of opportunity may have just slammed shut on GM Otis Smith’s poor little pinkies.”
- Dennis Scott is skeptical about the Miami Heat’s new superstar pairing.
- Head coach Doc Rivers jokingly wishes that all the major free agents signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Kevin Durant has been a breathe of fresh air at the 2010 Orlando Pro Summer League.
- More from Van Gundy: “If he went anywhere but Cleveland I’d be shocked, but I’d be doubly shocked if he went to Miami. [Wade and James] both want to be the man. I think Chris Bosh was a different story. I think he had tried to be the man. It didn’t work. I think he’s willing to be a very, very good second fiddle. I think he’s seen what happened to Pau Gasol. Teams that are good but couldn’t win the playoffs to being the second guy in L.A. and it’s worked well for him. I’m sure Chris Bosh envisions something pretty much the same. All those guys would love to be the man but it’s not that easy as a lot of them have found. I think it’s great for the Heat and good for him.”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus takes a look at the shooting guards in free agency, a group which includes J.J. Redick: “Though Redick’s stats had been terrible before 2009-10, it was evident during the 2009 postseason that his work behind the scenes was paying off. Redick has made himself into a positive at the defensive end of the floor and a capable ballhandler, and when he got regular minutes last season his shots started falling. I’m a little more concerned that last year might have been Redick’s high-water mark, but it’s a pretty nice mark.”
- More from Pelton: “The itinerant [Matt] Barnes shows up on this list year after year, and has climbed considerably–he was ranked 10th in 2008 and 11th in 2009. Barnes has established a nice little niche for himself as a role player who will provide toughness and defense without hurting you on offense. Mario Elie and Rick Fox, Barnes’ two best comps, are probably the patron saints of this group. All Barnes is missing is the ring. Would he be crazy enough to chase it as part of a super-team? That would be about the best pickup realistically possible at the minimum. If Barnes walks from Orlando, which looks likely after the Magic spent a good chunk of its mid-level exception on Chris Duhon, he’ll be missed.”
- Jameer Nelson is one of the top sidekicks in the NBA, according to Daniel Marks of Dime Magazine: “Nobody expected Nelson to be an All-Star caliber point guard when he was drafted out of St. Joe’s, but that’s what he has proven to be. Nelson can score, but also knows when to give the ball down low to Dwight Howard. Nelson beats out Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter for this position because he knows how to best play off of Superman.”
- A number of teams in the league are interested in Redick.
Photo by the Orlando Magic
The New Jersey Nets were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 94-91 on the third day of the 2010 Orlando Pro Summer League. For the Nets, it was the Damion James and Terrence Williams show. James led New Jersey with a game-high 30 points on 9-of-18 shooting, while Williams finished with 22 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Although Williams scored quite a bit for the Nets, it took him 26 shots to get to his total. Efficiency be damned. Derrick Favors only had four points and five rebounds, given that he was saddled with foul trouble. The Magic were led by Joe Crawford, who had 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting (4-of-5 from the three-point line). Paul Davis chipped in for Orlando, also, with 16 points on five shots and seven rebounds. Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson didn’t do much.