What was expected to be a quiet June day in the world of the Orlando Magic turned out to be anything but.
Steve Clifford, after three seasons as coach of the Magic, parted ways with the organization on Saturday.
While not completely unexpected - given the Magic’s rebuild, Clifford’s contract situation, the Magic’s need for player development, and Clifford’s penchant for playing vets - it was still somewhat surprising.
Clifford guided the Magic to the postseason in his first two seasons as coach, ending a seven-year post-Dwight drought. He held players accountable, played those he felt gave the Magic the best chance to win, and refused to celebrate moral victory or empty stats. He also overplayed certain players (turning a blind eye to the high volume of ill-advised shots attempted by Michael Carter-Williams and Dwayne Bacon), while underplaying others (not allowing Mo Bamba to play through mistakes until he was left with no choice with Khem Birch out of the picture).
As a result, Magic Twitter was mixed on the news of Clifford’s departure. Some were disappointed to see him go, many thanked him for his contributions, others were excited for a fresh start, quite a few mentioned the name Penny Hardaway.
Regardless of how you feel, we are all appreciative of what Clifford brought to the Magic and wish him nothing but the best as he hopefully gets an opportunity with a winning team.
Here are some of the top Steve Clifford-related tweets we came across....
"By mutual decision" is the new vernacular for firings/dismissals/breakups, etc., but I'm told that in the case of the Magic and Steve Clifford, it is an accurate description.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 5, 2021
Clifford took a team that had been miserable post-Dwight & brought them to the playoffs two consecutive seasons (despite injuries, despite not having a superstar on the roster).— Aaron Goldstone (@AaronGoldstone) June 5, 2021
Players improved (Vucevic became an All-Star), the team adopted his style-His presence will be missed
THANK YOU STEVE CLIFFORD FOR TAKING US TO THE PLAYOFFS WHEN NO OTHER COACH COULD pic.twitter.com/xm1T7ihr4i— Be Magic Or Be Gone! (@BeORLMagic) June 5, 2021
I enjoyed the Steve Clifford era. It was the best basketball, by far, in the post-Dwight years, on both ends of the court. Some nice wins, some players developed well. I don't hate the idea of a new coach but Clifford era was a relative success given the state of the franchise.— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) June 5, 2021
"The Orlando Magic and Steve Clifford have mutually agreed to part ways" pic.twitter.com/AWrvHuFRgH— PlayingDead™☠️ (@Im_PlayingDead) June 5, 2021
Everyone say a prayer for Dwayne Bacon and Michael Carter-Williams, not really anything wrong with them but their futures lie with the Liaoning Flying Leopards and Nanjing Monkey Kings now that Steve Clifford can’t drag them around with him anymore— andrew (@DiNucciMane) June 5, 2021
He doesn’t fit the timeline, I know, but the Magic lost an asset today in Steve Clifford— Cigamodnalro (@cigamodnalro) June 5, 2021
“If you want me to play Mo Bamba I’m going to quit!!!” -Clifford https://t.co/CcQplm3F00— MagicSam (aka Fultz Force Five & Fat Jimmy) (@jj4t12win10) June 5, 2021
With Cliff out I’m viewing Mo Bamba as a rookie this season.— Anthony HQ (@OMagicHQ) June 5, 2021
Health permitting, id like to see Steve Clifford w a win-now team at some point.— Martinelli's fan account (@NekiasNBA) June 5, 2021
Sad to see Steve Clifford go, loved the 'no more morale victories' attitude of the last couple of years.— Matt Jepson (@MJepson17) June 5, 2021
Hope he lands in a decent situation soon #MagicTogether
Steve Clifford and Frank Vogel unite over being set up to fail by the Magic challenge— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 5, 2021
Here’s why Penny Hardaway needs to be the next coach for the @OrlandoMagic His ability to communicate with this new generation is unmatched, his charisma with the media, he’s a terrific teacher, and he’s one of the best players to ever put on a Orlando Magic uniform. #Yoda pic.twitter.com/UCzT899APZ— Rashad Phillips (@RP3natural) June 5, 2021
Penny Hardaway, Head Coach of the Orlando Magic. pic.twitter.com/Tg30vnOMoC— ★ (@OmarMagic12) June 5, 2021
My friends and sources who know hoops better than I do say Penny Hardaway wouldn't actually be a good fit for Magic coach. pic.twitter.com/7phqDrn4Gb— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) June 5, 2021
LeBron James loses in playoffs✅— Jeff WeltGawd (@MagicMan816) June 5, 2021
We win the Lottery
We hire Penny Hardaway as the HC
We Draft Cade Cunningham
Classic Pinstripes is announced as our regular Jersey moving forward
Chuma, Cole, RJ, FRPs Dominate and win SL
What else we need for the perfect offseason?
Darrell Armstrong is a name that should be on the Magic’s FO radar. He has been an assistant coach with the Mavericks for the last few years. #MagicTogether— Stephen Cameron (@Stephen0610) June 6, 2021
Thank you, Steve Clifford!— The OZone (@theozonepod) June 5, 2021
Cliff brought the Magic back to the playoffs after years of misery and held every player that wore a Magic uniform during his tenure accountable.
Best of luck to him wherever he lands. We will always appreciate everything you did for the Magic. pic.twitter.com/6Pl4qkXUaj
Steve Clifford after going 96-131 in Orlando pic.twitter.com/NzkyesTaei— Acuña Matata ❗️ (@sourpatchzalich) June 5, 2021