In his weekly mailbag at the Orlando Sentinel, longtime beat writer Brian Schmitz, the Sentinel's Orlando Magic Insider, published a letter from a ticked-off reader who called him "a malignant force that casts a cloud over the Magic franchise" for engaging in speculation about what the Magic could obtain in a trade for Dwight Howard if the team decides to deal him before he hits free agency in 2012. Schmitz handled the shot well, saying, "You give me way too much clout," but the comment irritates me.
Brian's covered the Magic for nearly as long as it's been a team. He knows the game, knows the team, and deserves more respect than this reader, and his other critics, typically afford him. What we write, as journalists who're tasked to cover the team, has no bearing on what happens on the floor or in the locker room. The players, coaching staff, and opponent dictate that. What we do is drive a narrative. Schmitz was piggybacking off a New York Daily News report that said Howard might look to move to a bigger market in free-agency, and in that way, Schmitz wasn't doing anything too far removed from what I do here sometimes, such as when I picked up Marc Stein's report that the Magic might be interested in Troy Murphy if the New Jersey Nets buy him out.
We don't have the power, at all, to affect the product on the court. If anyone's irritated by what we write, there are alternative outlets from which to choose for Magic news. Brian isn't even the only Magic voice at the Sentinel, thanks to the hard work Josh Robbins and Zach McCann put in.
My advice here, as someone who hopes no one's similarly miffed at me for my take on the team? Consider reading those other sources. I'm coming to Brian's defense here because I don't think the criticism of a man who's simply doing his job is warranted. I hate to think I'd receive similar scrutiny if I wrote about the same topic Brian did.