Yes, I took the Magic and I stand by that pick. Many teams have blown game one in the finals and still came back to win. Don’t forget Allen Iverson’s Sixers beat the Lakers in the 2001 Finals only to be smoked the next four games. The Magic have looked horrible one game just to come back the next and light it up. Just look at the Sixers series. In that series they looked sloppy and ill prepared just to come back and give the look of a championship caliber team. Though Stan Van Gundy TRULY gets under my skin you have to give him credit for steering the ship right out of the storm after it nearly sinks.
There are many issues the Magic have to address. The top priority is stopping or merely containing #24. I’m not going to even attempt to address that issue. I will address the need of true point guard play. The Magic need their point guard to play more then 25 minutes. And NO I am not talking about that thug-wannabe Skip to my Lue (the Eddie House incident for which he received a one game suspension in the Boston series). He has done a decent job filling in for Jameer.
But if the Magic want to hoist that trophy into the air ONE CHANGE MUST OCCUR. Fisher must steer clear of Jameer. Jameer averaged 27.5 points and 6.5 assists per game in the two regular season games the Magic played against the Lakers. Fisher cannot stay with a point guard that has a quick first step and lightening fast moves. Jameer possesses those skills and he runs the Magic offense more effectively then Rafer Alston. Alston is already whining that he was out of rhythm because he rode the pine in the second quarter of game one. Thanks for your time and service Rafer but you are paid to play in the NBA. You are paid to ALWAYS be ready to go and you were already exposed in the Celtics series.
Maybe Rafer should take some lessons from Shannon Brown. Brown seized the moment with limited playing time. After this season maybe Brown can take Alston to Jackson’s house for ZEN lessons. Bottom Line is that the Magic will have difficulty running their BEST offense without their true floor general on the floor. To pull off the upset they need near perfect play from that position PLUS the reemergence of SUPERMAN.
Jameer shook off the cobwebs in game one. Now it’s time to unleash the beast. You have to risk it to win it. The Magic will not be here again. Not in the near future. This is their VERY small window to snag a championship. Next year Garnett will be back and King “Crybaby” James will be more determined and he will perhaps have a wingman.
People are going to kill me for this point of view. Heck, even Le Basketbawl Senior Managing Editor Jeff Sack brought up the end of former Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale’s career because he played in the 1987 finals against the Lakers with a stress fracture. That in essence ended McHale’s career. McHale’s career was basically over at that point anyway. Lets be honest he has had a good run in the front office of the Timberwolves after his playing days were over. So I don’t feel bad for him.
Jameer Nelson is a different story. I watched Jameer play in college at St Joe’s. I saw the fire in his eyes and the yearning to win. I saw him single handed carry that St Joe’s team to the Sweet 16. I saw the pride that Phil Martelli had for Jameer and Phil can attest for the strength, pride, and passion Jameer has for the game. This is all he has. He has endured the tragic drowning of his father. His father died doing what he loved. Let Jameer risk his career doing what he loves in the memory of his father. He is one tough player and has endured a tremendous amount to get to this point in his life. Let him live the moment and guide the Magic to the NBA Championship. He will not have this opportunity again.
Jameer isn’t a Kevin McHale. He will not be a perennial all star. This is the pinnacle of his career. I greatly respect Jameer but I do not believe he can elevate his game past this point. Roll the dice and gamble Stan Van Gundy. If it works you are seen as one of the greatest coaches in recent history. If it doesn’t your job is still safe at least for the next couple years until you get bumped out of the playoffs again and again (Can we say Avery Johnson?). If that suites you then you can be an ESPN analyst. Not knocking ESPN Stan but you and I both know that being an NBA coach is where all the glory is. Roll the dice Stan and Fish steer clear of Jameer! Follow my simple advice and Orlando will have a championship to finally call their own.