Now that the season is over, it is time to review the last five months. This is our yearly look back at what went right and what went wrong during the 2013-14 season.
The Magic’s 25th Anniversary celebration was a fantastic look back at the team’s history. However, it was incomplete. Two of the Magic’s all-time greats could not get back to Orlando for their night in the spotlight and their chance to revel in the nostalgia of their accomplishments with the team.
It felt like a sure thing that Shaquille O’Neal and Scott Skiles would return to Orlando and get their night. It was reported throughout the season the Magic had reached out to both and both declined. In O’Neal’s case, it appeared to be scheduling conflicts that kept moving the date around until time ran out. In Skiles’ case, it appeared to be indifference or a desire to stay out of the spotlight.
As Magic fans, it was incredibly disheartening not to see these two players make their returns and get celebrated for their contributions to Magic history. If Pat Garrity — no offense, Pat — can get honored, then almost certainly O’Neal and Skiles needed their day.
Yes, Shaq still probably is not the most liked guy in Orlando. He brought up a lot of bad blood with statements he made about Orlando no his way out the door (although Orlando did not help itself with the way contract negotiations went and the infamous Orlando Sentinel poll). Like Tracy McGrady and Anfernee Hardaway admitted on their returns this year, there is some trepidation to the response they would receive.
But as the fans showed in honoring McGrady, Hardaway, Grant Hill and, even, Dwight Howard, this was a time to appreciate the accomplishments these players made with the organization. It was all water under the bridge.
The only thing that could make O’Neal more detestable was to show up the Magic by not showing up. At least the Magic never announced or guaranteed he would come. There is still some room for esteem whenever O’Neal does decide to come back and have his day (it might be at next year’s Hall of Fame induction, for all we know).
That is unfortunate as he was always a fan favorite and one of the hardest workers to ever put on a Magic uniform.
As great as the 25th Anniversary celebration was, it felt incomplete without these two players as part of the festivities.
What Went Right: The Bigger Picture, Kyle O’Quinn, Defending Amway Center, Patience, Celebrating 25 Years of Magic Basketball
What Went Wrong: Still Losing, Andrew Nicholson, Road Worriers, Relying on the 2014 Draft