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Steve's birthday present to the Magic...another Super Bowl?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by SA Rocket, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    Tell me if this story sounds familiar and whether you detect some of the post-trade bravado may just about be gone. Remember all that boasting by Orlando media(as well as teammates and officials). What's that old saying about he who laughs last?:D

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/spor...45263.story?coll=orl-magic&ctrack=1&cset=true

    Magic walking a tight rope
    Coach Johnny Davis must maintain a delicate balance with star guard Steve Francis.


    By Tim Povtak | Sentinel Staff Writer
    Posted February 22, 2005


    The Orlando Magic spent the first part of the season riding the highs and the lows -- the good and bad -- of talented but tempestuous point guard Steve Francis.

    Don't expect much to change now.

    It's a precarious tightrope the Magic and Coach Johnny Davis will walk with Francis.

    He missed the first day of practice after the NBA all-star break Monday, dampening the push-for-the-playoffs speech that Davis delivered to his team.

    The Magic went through a hard practice with rookie Jameer Nelson working with the starting unit.

    "It's disappointing -- very disappointing that he's not here," Davis said at RDV Sportsplex. "Make no mistake about that. There's no getting around it. He should have been here. Everyone else was."

    After five days off, the Magic moved their practice back to 3 p.m. Monday -- four hours later than normal -- to give everyone time to return to Central Florida, particularly Grant Hill and Dwight Howard, who were at all-star weekend in Denver.

    They returned on the team plane at 5 a.m., getting some sleep before getting to practice.

    Francis called Davis early in the day, informing him he had missed his scheduled flight back to Orlando. Davis said Francis would be fined an undisclosed amount, but it would not keep him out of the lineup tonight when the Magic resume play against the Indiana Pacers at TD Waterhouse Centre.

    "We go over all the rules before the season begins, about being at practice and being on time for practice," Davis said. "But there is no amount of money you could fine a guy here that would make him adhere to team rules. It has to be about the team."

    Francis has led the Magic in scoring (21.9 points per game) and assists (7.1 per game) throughout the season, also averaging 6.3 rebounds. Yet he also is among the league leaders in turnovers (4.1 per game) and technical fouls. He has sparked the Magic with his explosiveness -- winning games in the final seconds -- yet has hurt the team with inconsistency.

    He was unavailable for comment Monday, but he was expected to address his teammates when they convene this morning at TD Waterhouse Centre. Francis celebrated his 28th birthday Monday.

    Francis made news last season with the Houston Rockets when he was fined for missing a team flight to Phoenix on Super Bowl Sunday.

    Hill, the Magic captain, said he was not upset or disappointed that Francis missed practice.

    "Stuff happens," Hill said. "It's not going to bother this team. We'll stick together."

    Others, though, expressed disappointment.

    "Everyone's time is important. Everyone should respect everyone else's time," forward Pat Garrity said. "That's how you build team unity."

    The Magic (28-24) are hoping to use the final 30 games to solidify their playoff position and establish a more consistent style of play. Throughout the first 52 games, they beat some of the league's best teams (San Antonio, Seattle, Dallas) but lost to some of the worst (Charlotte, Atlanta).

    Hill was typically optimistic, even though the final 30 games will start with four difficult matchups -- the Pacers, the Miami Heat twice and the Sacramento Kings.

    "If we can come out of this short stretch with more wins than losses, it could be a big momentum swing for us," Hill said. "It would really get us off on the right track."

    The Pacers (25-26) would not make the playoffs if the postseason started today, but they were expected to be championship contenders four months ago.

    Their season was torn apart by "The Brawl" in Detroit and the suspensions that followed. The presence of all-star Jermaine O'Neal makes them especially dangerous, even without Ron Artest, who was suspended for the season.

    The Heat (40-14) have the best record in the East and are expected to improve as center Shaquille O'Neal shifts into his late-season intensity. The Kings (33-20) have both the experience and the offense to beat anyone in the league.

    If the playoffs started today, the Magic would be the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, facing the No. 3 seed Boston Celtics. They are only two victories from the No. 4 seed Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Yet if they lose the next four -- which is possible, based on their inconsistency this season -- the Magic could be back to .500 and out of a playoff position.

    "We'll know a lot more about ourselves after the next 30 games," Hill said. "We have a chance to go into the playoffs feeling really good about ourselves or feeling really bad about ourselves. We'll see."

    Davis spent part of the weekend watching film of his team, trying to formulate a plan that will make it a dangerous team down the stretch and into the playoffs.

    "We want to be a better team defensively because that's where it all starts," he said. "The next 30 games are going to be more intense than the first 52, but that's throughout the league. When you get to this part of the season, you can see the end. If we just get better as a team and in what we do, we'll be fine."

    Davis wants the team to play better perimeter defense and to stop other teams from driving, particularly opposing point guards. But his own point guard wasn't there to hear his speech. He didn't try to hide his disappointment in Francis.

    "Everyone is responsible for being here," he said. "No exception."


    Tim Povtak can be reached at tpovtak@orlandosentinel.com.
     
  2. tim562

    tim562 Contributing Member

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    HAHAHAH, everything just keeps piling on in Orlando and we just keep on winning. Sucks to be Orlando right now.
     
  3. Davidoff

    Davidoff Contributing Member

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    HAHA, Steve when will you ever learn??? I wonder if they fine him and keep him out of a game??
     
  4. Fegwu

    Fegwu Contributing Member

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    Not good at all.

    The plot tickens....
     
  5. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    Anyone care to guess what Steve's public comments about this incident will be? Perhaps something like:

    "If there was anyway possible for me to be here, I would've been here. If there's anybody who knows about team first, it's myself. Nobody works harder than myself at putting team above himself and for anyone to say otherwise is disrespectful to myself, who respects his teammates and coaches above all else. I'm all about heart. It's unfortunate that people choose to say this is a pattern of behavior. Anyone can see it's all just weird coincidences."


    Blah, blah, blah... :rolleyes:
     
  6. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    I don't see Steve being with the Magic long-term.

    Also, I don't see Steve "changing" or "getting it" until he plays for a hard-nose coach with a proven track record of winning (Larry Brown, Poppovich, PJackson, etc.)

    Frankly, after he sees how much success we have w/ a more fluid JVG... he may start to appreciate the toughness and hard-nosed nature about him... and would be better served playing for him later in his career.

    But, till then... "how do you solve a problem like Stevie?"
     
  7. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    Great point Nick. Seeing JVG loosen the offense once he got players who "get it" should make Steve rethink his attitude and what JVG was trying to get him to do. Seeing what Sura is doing in the system, we can only imagine what Steve's physical talent could do if he only had a brain. Perhaps a trade to the Wizards or Seattle(the Emerald City) would do it!:D
     
  8. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

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    man i cant believe this i love stevie but its getting harder and harder to defend him when he keeps acting juvenile about things. i dont think stevie will be in a magic jersey in 2 years and the sad part is that his value will probably have dropped to a point where they'd be lucky to get another all star for him
     
  9. Fegwu

    Fegwu Contributing Member

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    I have a question - how hard is it to find another flight even with another airline once at the airport? Unless he was outside the country (lets say Jamaica), it is quite easy to get flights to Orlando from most parts of the continental USA and Canada from the various available list of airlines.

    Heck when we were organizing a soccer match here in Houston 2 years ago, we were able to negotiate a private jet to fly a team from DC to Houston on a short notice (and on a weekend) for somehwere between $12k - $15 USD.
     
  10. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    I know how you feel, YoYo, I know how you feel.

    I love how hard he plays and the passion he brings, but he makes it so frustrating to be his fan because nothing seems to sink in between his ears. Just when you think he might turn it around(like his comments after his session with The Big O), he falls right back into the same old habits.:confused:
     
    #10 SA Rocket, Feb 21, 2005
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2005
  11. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Read between the lines... this wasn't as simple as somebody just missing their flight (which, I'm sure you already know... but just reiterating it).

    Steve was probably celebrating his b-day, or he was too hungover from celebrating the night before (which is entirely believeable... and maybe even excusable, considering most of us have probably done that at one point in our lives).

    Of course, if he had known about the practice before-hand (which he did), he should have made previous arrangements to let them know he couldn't be there... or change his own schedule to accomodate it.
     
  12. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    You figure he could get another flight for less money than the fine will be.
     
  13. SA Rocket

    SA Rocket Contributing Member

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    True! Of course, I guess it'd be too much to expect Steve to think ahead and have that birthday bash in, say......Orlando......so that he wouldn't be late for a flight to, say.......Orlando?
     
  14. Relativist

    Relativist Contributing Member

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    man, we're talking about practice.... ;)
     
  15. m_cable

    m_cable Contributing Member

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    Wow, the wheels are falling off of Orlando in a hurry. They make that horrible trade of Cat for Christie who's not giving much to the team, and will be making 8 million next year. The trade pisses off Steve. Howard takes a not-so-subtle shot at SF for not passing him the ball. And now this, where you even have Pat Garrity piling on Stevie. It almost seems like Steve is mailing the season in. He still plays hard and will get "his" during the games. But you wonder if he really cares about the team anymore.
     
  16. BigSexy

    BigSexy Contributing Member

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    Its the principle of the matter. If i missed a pre-scheduled meeting at work, i would my get my a$$ kicked as well.
     
  17. StupidMoniker

    StupidMoniker I lost a bet
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    I didn't even go to my birthday. I don't care what those guys say, I was only five minutes late for my plane, but it was already gone. I am not a selfish person and I wouldn't do anything to hurt my team. - The MFing Franchise

    :D ;)
     
  18. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous
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    Hate to break it to you but it's a players league - Allen "practice" Iverson didn't change a bit while Brown was in Philly, he is still there and Brown is not, and if Phil Jackson is your idea of a hard nosed coach.....
     
  19. Clutch

    Clutch Administrator
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    I can't believe no one has suggested the obvious: Mo + Spoon for Francis? Sura could use a good backup.
     
  20. MrRolo

    MrRolo Contributing Member

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    Now that is what i'd love to see.. I can just picture stevie looking miserable on the bench the whole game with towels covering him.
     

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