The latest example of humiliation for the Orlando Magic came at a perfect time for the franchise, capping off a long stretch of misfortune.
Just when the fans thought the Orlando Magic could not reach another low point, the whiteboard gaffe happened. It could not have happened at a more fitting time for this franchise either.
The Magic have taken a ton of losses since the season began in late October. And the franchise’s reputation has been completely tarnished in the minds of neutral observers.
Recently, Magic fans have been putting up with about as much as a fan base should ever have to deal with outside of relocation.
In February, the Magic admitted defeat on their biggest gamble. The decision to trade Victor Oladipo and a first-round pick (Domantas Sabonis) for Serge Ibaka did not pan out, and they got what seemed like a disappointing haul for Ibaka compared to what they gave up to acquire him.
The hits kept coming as the Magic continued to sink in the standings. Their future continued to look cloudy.
ESPN ranked the Magic front office as the fourth worst in the NBA. The franchise’s CEO, Alex Martins, made a famously scrutinized comment predicting they will eventually be NBA champions by 2030 when prompted to predict where the team would be in that seemingly far-off year.
For the second straight season, the team’s coach has been not-so-quietly questioning the front office for poor personnel and team construction issues that make their coaching jobs more difficult. At least they are admitting the experiment failed and the philosophy underpinning it did not pan out.
Recently on an episode of the TrueHoop podcast, Ethan Strauss called the Magic the worst team to come through Oracle Arena all season.
And (as well timed as possible), Monday The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote he feels the Magic are the franchise with the least hope for the short-term future. This after Sports Illustrated called the Magic the team with the third most hopeless team in the league, considering their roster and front office situation.
Many NBA fans agree with that.
Let that sink in for Magic fans: The Magic have the least amount of hope in the NBA, even less than a franchise that is last in the standings and does not have their first round pick this year or next. They have less hope than a franchise that recently traded their All-NBA caliber center for pennies on the dollar, and a seemingly indecisive owner and potentially clueless general manager.
The specifics on the whiteboard are not a big deal for the most part. Front office members are always coming up with potential directions to go with their personnel.
Obviously, it would have been nice to not have the most important player on the team see his initials written down next to a potential replacement. But overall nothing that was written on that board will affect the franchise that much. They were a list of options and not an actual plan to act on.
Rather, the leak was more of a signal of the embarrassment the team and its fans have had to deal with for the past six years.
This has been the toughest five-year stretch in Magic history.
The best player in franchise history requested a trade multiple times. His coach put him on full blast in an interview for calling for his job.
The team lost somewhere between 47 and 62 games in each of the past five seasons. They watched as promising draft picks and young prospects left the team and grew into strong contributors for other, more successful franchises.
They went all in for a playoff run, and then the team lost more games than the previous season.
Now, all the team has to show for these years of struggle is public humiliation, frustration and the hope some ping pong balls fall their way.
In essence, the Magic are right back where they started five years ago.
Magic fans have dealt with a ton the past five years. And there is really no end in sight for the struggles. The whiteboard gaffe was a very fitting. In a cynical way, it is a satisfying spectacle summing up the state of the franchise.
Alex Martins claimed the Magic would be in contention for multiple championships by the year 2030. With the dysfunction and lack of hope for the future, fans must hope the team will be relevant before that time. But it is definitely not guaranteed.