I came across this interesting article today on the Portland Oregonian’s Web site.
Oregonian NBA reporter Geoffrey C. Arnold had a nice piece on Dave Twardzik, Orlando’s assistant general manager and a member of Portland’s 1977 championship team.
In the story Twardzik talks about the similarities between the two teams, and the bright future for the Magic.
Here’s a snippet:
“Our crowds have been great — very vocal and supportive,” he said. “The surrounding areas have really embraced us. They got involved at satellite locations where you can go watch the game. It’s really taken off.”
The Magic are scheduled to move into a new arena for the 2010-11 season, and there’s nothing better to drive ticket sales than a successful season.
“It’s been excellent timing and the construction (of the arena) is ahead of schedule,” Twardzik said. “The impact (of the playoffs) on the local economy has been tremendous. The hotels are full and the restaurants are doing a bunch of business. It’s been really good for the city’s economy.”
The Magic’s decision to construct the team around center Dwight Howard has turned out to be on target. Howard was the league’s defensive player of the year but hasn’t hit his offensive ceiling, a prospect that has the franchise excited about his potential.
Realizing that Howard needed space to be effective, Orlando surrounded him with perimeter shooters. But the Magic still look to Howard first for early offense, as opposed to the way the Blazers looked to Bill Walton in the post.
“Dwight is more of an offensive presence down there, and there is still so much potential for growth in his game,” Twardzik said. “We knew he could be a presence down low and wanted to give him room to operate by surrounding him with shooters. We (the Blazers) played a little bit different style. When we went inside, it wasn’t necessarily to score. It was more to initiate our offense, because Bill was such a good passer.”
I know a lot of Magic fans are down in the dumps after yesterday’s lackluster performance, but I really think the accomplishment of making it to the NBA Finals can’t be overlooked. Stories like this one can really help put the team’s 2009 run into context.