LeBron James’ diss of Orlando Magic shines light on their current situation

LeBron James walked all over Orlando in recent comment made on The Shop. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James walked all over Orlando in recent comment made on The Shop. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The truth hurts.

And it may still sting the 17-time All-Star that he was beaten by the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic back in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, destroying a much-anticipated matchup between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant on the biggest stage of basketball.

For the most part, nobody outside of insane Magic fans would think that this franchise would have a legitimate chance of landing LeBron James. Even the thought makes me shake my head.

Why would James put himself in a position where he does not have another bona fide All-Star or fringe hall-of-fame player alongside him at the tail-end of his career?

But James was asked if he would ever consider playing for the Orlando Magic franchise. The thought experiment was fun. . . while it lasted.


"“You gotta understand anytime I hear ‘Orlando’ right now, I get PTSD,” James said on the HBO show “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” referring to his three months last summer in the NBA bubble at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.“They have no chance” of getting him in a trade, James said. “I’ll just retire. It’s over with. ‘LeBron’s been traded to Orlando.’ ‘LeBron lives in Malibu,’” he joked."

The way he said it was in a joking matter, which is good for television, but it also shines a light on how far away the franchise is right now — and how far Orlando has to go to change its perception as merely a tourist town.

LeBron James’ lighthearted diss of the Orlando Magic may have been borne from the bubble. But it also shined a light at how far the Magic really are from free-agent contention.

The current roster looks worse than the rosters the Cleveland Cavaliers had built around James during his first stint as a Cavalier. And the last thing James’ body needs is to carry a load as he did in 2007 when he single-handedly carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Finals and got swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Magic clearly have a lot of work to do this offseason. A diss from a player of James’ stature,  shines a necessary light on a franchise that just blew up the entire roster to rebuild from scratch.

The Magic pretty traded three of its starters in Nikola Vucevic (Chicago Bulls), Aaron Gordon (Denver Nuggets) and Evan Fournier (Boston Celtics) in an attempt to reset the franchise.

These three players could never get out of the first round. Only Vucevic developed into an All-Star-level player during his time in Orlando. This reset was necessary but it also put the franchise in a bad position going forward and Magic fans will see their team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.

The team reset itself and is in the beginning stages of a rebuild. They are banking on landing a top pick in the upcoming draft to go along with promising young players like Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. But the future of the franchise is very much undetermined.

The team is not in a position to go after free agents quite yet. And even when the team might get max cap room in the summer of 2022, it is not clear the team will be in a winning position to be players and add All-Star talent to the roster.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Now coach Steve Clifford has to find ways to put the pieces together to stay afloat in an Eastern Conference that is getting better every year. There are not a lot of players who have a clear upside on the roster, which makes the process that much harder for Clifford.

And although Clifford has proven to be a good coach, he still will need to make multiple roster adjustments to get the most out of this team. This has been a tough job for Clifford as he really never saw his roster at full health during a season, which makes a coach expand on their creative side to get through a season.

Clifford will have to put on his thinking cap during the 2022 season and put his young players like Cole Anthony and Jonathan Isaac in a position to be successful. His trust level will have to be at an all-time high and he cannot get too high or too low about the ups and downs.

The best-case scenario for Clifford is for those players mentioned to make a huge jump to keep them in the mix of things. It will be extremely hard for this franchise to make any noise though.

But the words from James cut deep.

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Hopefully, this shot by James does not worsen the thought process of another superstar free agent to make them not want to join the franchise in the near future.