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Orlando Magic Venter, here...It's a sad, pathetic life, but someone has gotta do it...

Well, here I am; The typical fan that joyously sings (and, I do sing) the Magic's praises during the good times, and mercilessly bashes them to bits after "ridiculous" and "unacceptable" losses. The past two seasons I've actually felt a sense of entitlement because I've attended most home games (as if that makes me any more knowledgeable of the team...), and I've been particularly harsh of Stan's decision to play Jameer Nelson in the 2009 NBA Finals, but NOT Brandon Bass in the 2010 ECF, and indeed, throughout the entirety of the season...

The decision to play Jameer Nelson in last season's Finals irks me to this day! Would we have beaten LA had he not played?! I don't know the answer to that, but sheesh, you've gotta think that inserting a guy who hasn't played in MONTHS (we're talking FORTY inactive games!) would deteriorate the continuity of the team?! Certainly doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand this concept, so what was Stan thinking?! We could speculate all night: He was trying to spark the team, he needed Jameer's passing (Maybe? Jameer is a better passer than Rafer)...yada yada yada...I have NO reasonable idea! The PG combination of Rafer Alston and Anthony Johnson got us to the FINALS! Why screw that all up?!

Fast forward to the 2009-2010 off season...Turk is dreaming of $10 million/per year contracts and the thrilling Toronto club-life, while the Magic study the free agency market...Knowing that the team needed size, strength, and depth at the PF and C position to combat Cleveland's signing of Shaq and Boston's Rasheed Wallace, Otis made huge moves in signing Brandon Bass and matching Dallas to retain Gortat.

[Let me first preface the next paragraph by saying that I STRONGLY BELIEVE that this very roster can win an NBA Championship if Brandon Bass is given a starter's role @ the PF position and Rashard Lewis is moved to SF...]

The date is July 10, 2009. It's a beautiful, sunny day, and oh, Brandon Bass agrees to a 4-year, $18 million deal with Orlando. I remember Otis' words as clear as crystal: "Brandon is a physical, athletic frontline player. He will fit in well with our young core and we are excited to have him join the Magic family." Excited?! Excited that he started THREE games, played in only FIFTY contests and averaged 13 minutes per outing?! Excited that he played THIRTY-FOUR TOTAL minutes in a SIX GAME series with Boston?! I know I'm not crazy, here, because we all thought the SAME THING when Brandon initially signed...On July 13, 2009 ESPN.com said, "Brandon Bass is going from backing up Dirk Nowitzki to likely starting next to Dwight Howard." Uh huh. NBA.com said, "The 23-year-old Bass was one of the most coveted big men in this year's free agency class, having been a valuable role player off the bench for the Mavericks the past two seasons." We were all sold on the idea that Brandon Bass would assist Dwight on the boards and create another inside presence that would open up the offense, and, on defense, close the lane to foolish players (Not named Kobe, LeBron James, and Dwayne Wade) who had the audacity to attack the basket...and we were absolutely RIGHT to think this way...Here's a guy who, at Dallas, played in 81 games and averaged "8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19 minutes a night", only to see those averages drop to 5.8, 2.5, and 13, respectively.

Why do I think Bass will be effective? Well, look no further than his impact in the only two wins we salvaged in the Boston series. Sure he played 11, 12 minutes and only scored a few baskets, but his inside presence coupled with Dwight's lock-down of the lane created major problems for Boston's bigs. The kid is not very tall, 6'8'', but he manages to get rebounds because he has a massive body and big motor. Think: Big Baby. I would say he's very comparable to Glen Davis, considering their size- both height and brawn. Big Baby is undersized for a C/PF at 6'9'', as well, but his hustle and will-power (and his fat ass) make him a pesky, yet effective, rebounder.

Back to my original vent, though...We're sitting in a historically inescapable 3-0 series hole and here returns the long-lost son, once banished to the bench and now recalled by King Van Gundy. All of a sudden, the Magic look like they can become the NBA's first team to come back from certain elimination! A squeaker win in Boston and a blowout in Orlando later and the hopes and dreams of a Magic Parade down Orange Ave. are resurrected! I'll never forget watching 'Rome is Burning' before Game 6, and hearing Jim Rome exalt Brandon Bass as maybe being the most important player in the series, and how his impact had swung the momentum of the series back to Orlando. To say that everyone and their grandma knew that Bass was KEY to our success is an understatement. What happened in reality, though? Stan waited until we're down by 20+ to put him in for FIVE minutes...

I'll stay strong in my position that we ought to give this guy a chance. The owners have spent a lot of money making this the deepest, most talented roster top to bottom of any team in the NBA. I don't know if there is an attitude problem, or some internal issue we don't know of to punish Bass, but we need to do something to give him a starting role. I think it was Jordan who said that you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Well, we ought to take a shot on Brandon Bass.

1 comment:

  1. Agree 100% every game he played, he did so with so much energy.