A rock and a hard place. Pick your poison. Lesser of two evils.
All phrases apply to the decision Magic fans must make when selecting a team to root for in the 2020 NBA Finals.
There is no right answer. There is no wrong answer. There is no easy answer.
Here are your options:
The Miami Heat
NBA co-tenants in the state of Florida.
The similarities between the two teams mostly ends with the state listed on their address.
The Heat have won three NBA championship to the Magic’s zero, which is more disheartening when you consider the fact that the two organizations entered the league at essentially the exact same time (Heat in 1988, Magic in 1989).
Since Pat Riley joined the organization in 1995, the Heat have missed the playoffs just six times, a number equaling the Magic’s most recent playoff drought, which ran from 2013 to 2019. One of those seasons that the Heat missed the playoffs was just last year, when the Magic managed to steal the eighth seed from them.
One year later, the Magic are stuck on a treadmill of mediocrity while the Heat are four wins away from yet another title.
And yet, it was the Magic, not the Heat who essentially tanked to get where they are today, stockpiling lottery picks that either did not, have not, or will not pan out. The Heat rebuild was like a first-class direct flight, while the Magic are stuck in coach making multiple layovers, getting delayed at each stop, losing their luggage, and then boarding another plane to repeat the entire cycle.
Of course, it’s easy to say it’s because the Heat landed Jimmy Butler. That’s true, but it’s not the only reason, and we have already covered at length how the Heat rebuilt faster than the Magic. They’ve had continuity, since Erik Spoelstra was named head coach in 2008, the Magic have welcomed in and/or shown out Stan Van Gundy, Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego (interim), Scott Skiles, Frank Vogel and Steve Clifford.
They’ve found young shooters (Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson) and effective veterans (Goran Dragic), and moved on from a player who didn’t fit (Hassan Whiteside) so one of their core players could develop into an All-Star (Bam Adebayo).
All said and done, the Heat recovered from losing LeBron James faster than the Magic recovered from losing Dwight Howard. Speaking of which....
The Los Angeles Lakers
The only team standing between your intrastate rival and another championship banner is the Lakers, a team that had used the Magic like a minor-league affiliate to groom their young centers and raise banners of their own.
Dwight Howard was expected to help the Lakers raise a few when he was first traded to L.A. by the Magic in 2012. That one-year experiment failed, and yet here we are, with Dwight back in purple and gold, four wins away from winning his first championship.
Typically, after a messy divorce with your ex, you don’t wish for them to have a happily-ever-after ending with the perfect family, cute dog and dream house with a white-picket fence. Dwight - who helped turn his divorce from the Magic into a long, humiliating, public drama - has found himself in that situation, even if he took the long way to get there. Still, many Magic fans do not want to see a championship ring on the finger of a player who arguably did more for the Magic organization than any other.
I’m not one of them, for reasons I stated when asking if it’s OK for Magic fans to root for Dwight Howard.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Howard win a championship. Same goes for Frank Vogel, who got a raw deal from the Magic. Same goes for LeBron James, who is as good a representative as any to win a title in this most unusual of NBA seasons.
So, when stuck between a rock and a hard place, and picking my poison and the lesser of two evils, I take the Lakers.
Orlando Magic fans, which team are you rooting for in the NBA Finals?— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) September 30, 2020