BOSTON - MAY 22: (L-R) Matt Barnes #22, Jameer Nelson #14 and Anthony Johnson #8 of the Orlando Magic sit on the bench dejected late in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Kurt Helin has some fantastic, and much-needed, perspective on the Orlando Magic's disappointing and embarrassing Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics:
The Magic need to ask where their fight was. They may have lost anyway, but they rolled over and played dead.
[Coach Stan] Van Gundy tried to throw himself on the sword in his post game press conference, but this is not really on him. Maybe there were little things he could have done -- go to JJ Redick a bit earlier, for example -- but when a team comes out flat for an Eastern Conference Finals game that is on the players. [Dwight] Howard admitted as much.
There needs to be accountability in the Magic locker room -- and that starts with Howard and the other leaders.
Kelly Dwyer also touched on this topic:
The problem is that Orlando isn't anywhere near the team it has been over the last two seasons - championship contenders the whole way - if it wasn't for him. It's not Howard, and it's not the depth. It's Stan Van Gundy. And if his players don't want to taste what they've had before, a chance to play for that championship in the NBA's final round, then this isn't on Van Gundy. Because he wants that taste, again. I know he wants to chase that dragon. I don't know if his players care enough to.
After the loss, I started thinking about all the people whom the Magic let down last night. I thought about the fans, primarily. The loyal customers who spend big bucks on seats and, ahem, helped pay for a brand-new building that will open this October. But until now, I hadn't considered Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith. Maybe that's selfish on my part, sure. But those guys have done everything they can to put this team in position to win. Smith, with owner Rich DeVos' blessing, spent big last summer to upgrade the Magic. And Van Gundy, with the help of his staff, has worked tirelessly for this team. They deserve better. The fans do as well.
Ire toward Van Gundy and Smith is misguided. They did, and are doing, their part to bring this city a championship. The players now have to hold up their end of the bargain.