There’s something about leaving Orlando and having success in Los Angeles.
First it was Shaquille O’Neal, and Horace Grant, who both won titles with the Los Angeles Lakers after multiple years battling for titles with the Magic. Now, it’s former head coach Frank Vogel and Dwight Howard, the later who forced his way out in the summer of 2012, only to be bitten by the injury bug more often than not, and failing to have success in his first year with the Lakers.
Vogel on the other hand is different.
After a successful run with the Indiana Pacers, Vogel was tasked with taking over a young Magic team that was chalked full of players who had yet to fully prove themselves in the league. He was working with then general manager Rob Hennigan, but after Hennigan was removed from his role with the organization following the 2016/17 season, and Jeff Weltman and John Hammond were brought in, Vogel was in a tough situation.
Vogel inherited a Magic roster that didn’t match, and had already seen the departure of Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris in pervious trades. Serge Ibaka was brought in for Oladipo to play along side Nikola Vucevic, but the pairing didn’t work out, leading to Ibaka’s mid-season trade to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross.
Before his firing at the hands of Weltman and Hammond after the conclusion of the 2017/18 season, Vogel never really got a true chance to coach a team who could contend for a playoff spot. His Magic teams failed to live up to expectations, and showed little signs of being able to rid themselves of the bad habits that had been developed under previous coaches.
That ultimately got Vogel fired, albeit maybe a little soon considering he had just two years with the Magic — one with Hennigan whose track record is subpar to say the least — and one as a “lame duck” with the aforementioned duo of Weltman and Hammond.
Now, after sitting out a season, Vogel is hoisting the Larry O’Brian Trophy with the Lakers, while the Magic are at home enjoying their offseason. The tides changed quickly for Vogel, and deservedly so after he was given the short end of the stick with the Pacers and the Magic.
The 47-year-old coach has had some luck at his finger tips now with LeBron James and Anthony Davis spearheading the Lakers roster, but he’s done a great job of managing the personalities, and a difficult and emotional season for the Lakers. After the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant in January, the COVID-19 pandemic we’re still navigating, and being in the NBA’s bubble for over three months, the Vogel led Lakers find themselves at the top of the mountain once again.
For a guy who didn’t get the fair end of the deal in Orlando, that’s great. I don’t know if Vogel would’ve turned this Magic team into what Steve Clifford has over the past two seasons, but I do know Vogel got the short end of the stick after just two seasons in Orlando.