Jeff Van Gundy questions if Magic fans should stay loyal

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Is it really worth it?

Every fan of a team has asked themselves that at some point. Is the emotional commitment worth the payoff? Are there better things I could be doing with my time and money?

Usually we come back around to yes on that question, because the ties to the team are not just about the sport or the uniform or the players. The real ties to our teams are social connections — who we watch games with (family and friends), where we live, where we went to college — that come with rooting for a team.

But Jeff Van Gundy wonders if Magic fans should reach that conclusion. He was on ESPN Radio in New York and wondered if they would think it’s worth it (via Sports Radio Interviews and Ball Don’t Lie).

“I think long-term if you’re an Orlando Magic fan today is a day where you have to ask yourself is it worth it? Because we’ve had three stars in our time, in Orlando, we had Shaquille O’Neal who went free agency and left. We had Tracy McGrady and he forced his way out and I was the beneficiary of that. Then third you had Dwight Howard who forced his way out. You have to ask yourself, is it worth it? Because even if we get the guys are we going to be able to keep the guys? So much is being made of draft picks. Those draft picks are great if, like Oklahoma City, you have the ability to have the second, third and fourth pick in the draft and get (Kevin) Durant, (Russell) Westbrook, (James) Harden and (Serge) Ibaka. You’ve got to get those picks and then you have to draft the right guys and they’ve got to come together like those guys have and then you have to be able to retain them like Oklahoma City has but Orlando, when they have gotten their best players, whatever reason, it hasn’t worked out and I really, really feel for their fan base. It’s a sad day for the Orlando Magic fan base.”

It is a sad time for Magic fans. And we can debate if the Magic could have gotten a better package for Howard but the fact is the package still would not have been anywhere near equal value. The Magic were going to come out of this situation much worse than they went in. It was going to feel familiar to long-time Orlando fans.

Eventually, when they start winning again, the Magic fans will come back around. But if you know you are going to stink for the next few years to build your team, it’s hard to be motivated as a fan.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.