Why America Should Root for Magic
It's Orlando. And by the time they finish reading this, even Lakers fans will agree.
Yes, I am delusional.
Jeannie Buss will dump Phil Jackson for Stan Van Gundy before L.A. fans see the light. This is for people who need a favorite just to make the Finals more interesting.
If you listen to the experts, the Lakers are favorites. If you listen to your heart, it should hear the Magic calling.
Reason No. 1 -- It would be one small step for Stan, one giant leap for Stan-kind.
Van Gundy is Everyman. A schlump who gets almost no respect.
Jackson probably spends more on a haircut than Van Gundy has spent on his entire wardrobe. In 193 games with Orlando, Van Gundy has worn a tie approximately one time.
He just wants to coach, someone who cares more about winning than kissing up. That's why Shaquille O'Neal doesn't like him and Dwight Howard does.
"He is a great motivator," Howard said. "Even when he is yelling and screaming, throughout all that he finds a way to put in just an ounce of something to get us fired up."
It ain't Zen, but the regular guy must be doing something right.
Reason No. 2 -- Shaq will eat his words.
O'Neal will hate it if Kobe Bryant wins a ring without him. He'll hate it if the coach he called the Master of Panic wins anything.
At least there's evidence Bryant's ego contributed to his falling out with O'Neal. The only thing Van Gundy ever did was poke a little fun at O'Neal for flopping against Dwight Howard.
Now Shaq says his clash with Bryant was "all marketing." If the Master of Panic wins, how will the Big Sensitive explain that one?
Reason No. 3 -- If the Lakers win the Zen Master will pass Red Auerbach and get his 10th championship ring. Despite what you may heard from Boston and L.A. fans, there's no way to determine who was really the better coach and the records should reflect that.
Note: Dating a woman who posed in Playboy does not count as the tiebreaker.
Reason No. 4 -- The Lamar Odom Diet could destroy youth.
If Odom plays well, the Lakers will win and every kid can tell their parents they need to eat a plate of Starburst jelly beans for breakfast.
Reason No. 5 -- Famous words from Draft Night 2004.
The great debate was whether Orlando should take Howard or Emeka Okafor.
"In 10 years, man, the Magic are going to regret not taking Mr. Okafor." -- Dick Vitale.
"The Orlando Magic cannot play a guessing game. Emeka Okafor is the man. He's the answer." -- Stephen A. Smith.
A Magic win would reinforce how Vitale is too much a shill for college basketball and Smith is too much a shill for himself. Not that either needed much reinforcing.
Reason No. 6 -- Rafer Alston.
Playground legends are supposed to be fundamentally flawed gunners. Even though he's tamed his act, a victory for Alston would be a victory for every kid who ever tried to dribble between his opponent's legs.
Reason No. 7 -- Dwight Howard has no tattoos.
Reason No. 8 -- The Polish people need it.
Orlando's backup center Marcin Gortat reports that the sports atmosphere is changing in his hometown of Lodz, Poland.
"You can see people wearing Magic jerseys in the streets now. And in the bars, instead of just soccer they are starting to put on NBA basketball," Gortat said.
Anything that loosens soccer's maniacal grip over Europe must be supported.
Reason No. 9 -- President Obama's prediction.
"The Lakers in six," he said.
I really can't argue with that. I just know that the mere fact Obama likes the Lakers is reason enough for every Republican to pull for Orlando.
Reason No. 10 -- Orlando needs it more.
Whatever happens, L.A. will still have culture, celebrities, the Dodgers, Rodeo Drive and Salma Hayek.
Orlando will have mosquitoes and no state income tax.
The city has never quite gotten over O'Neal jilting it 13 years ago for the bright lights of Hollywood . In that spirit, imagine the NBA Finals as a movie.
Wouldn't it be nice if just once the schlump got the girl?