By Matthew Curtis | Enzian Theater June 5, 2007 at 10:58AM
Once again the "Curse of the Shaquino" has reared its ugly head. Ever since the Orlando Magic let Shaq leave town 11 years ago, it's been one disaster after another, and the current Billy Donovan situation is just icing on the proverbial misery cake. Other than winning the draft lottery 3 times in their franchise history, Magic fans have been taking it on the chin for a while now and the hits just keep on coming: Shaq bolts for LA and Orlando gets nothing in return; Grant Hill's litany of injuries and demon ankle allow him to play maybe two decent years out of the seven he's been here; they keep Bo Outlaw and let Ben Wallace go to Detroit instead; they hire a hockey guy (John Weisbrod) to run the franchise (are you kidding me!?) and instead runs Tracy McGrady out of town to Houston; they use their 1st round draft pick in 2005 to draft a power forward from Spain named Fran Vazquez, and he decides to stay overseas and dis the NBA; second-time-around Coach Brian Hill gets them to the playoffs for the first time in 4 years and they take 3 weeks to decide to can him.
And now, maybe the most pathetic situation of them all. The hiring of University of Florida golden boy Coach Billy Donovan on Friday was going to be a milestone for the franchise. What a coup! The hottest coach in the country, winner of back-to-back colege championships, was coming to Orlando for big bucks and the challenge of succeeding in the NBA. After a whirlwind of activity that had this town buzzing about its basketball team like it hadn't since the day Shaq was drafted, Billy went back to Gainesville and suddenly we were hearing about a change of heart. Uh, you think it might've helped to take a couple of more days before making the decision, signing that $27.5 mil contract, and holding a one-hour press conference/love fest with Magic management?
Unless there's yet another flip-flop (in which case how trustworthy is this guy to be 100% committed to coaching your team?), obviously the Magic are going to have to let him go back to the Gators. And once again we look like a bunch of fools who can't get their act together. One wonders if this will have an effect on the Magic's ability to get a stud free agent and a new arena built, and ultimately, whether or not this team (our only pro franchise by the way) even stays in Orlando in the long run. That 's how devastating the aftershocks of this "change of heart" may be. Thanks a lot Billy.