A mainstay of the Orlando Magic’s television broadcasting crew won’t be back for the 2013-14 season.
Team officials have decided not to renew the contract of Matt Guokas, the team’s color commentator on local TV broadcasts since the 2004-05 season.
Team spokesman Joel Glass wouldn’t give a reason for the decision, but he said, “Matty has been and will always be a valued part of Magic history. We truly appreciate his commitment and service to the organization.”
Guokas, who didn’t return messages Friday from the Orlando Sentinel, indeed has a long history with the Magic.
He served as the team’s first head coach, beginning with the franchise’s inaugural season in 1989-90 and ending after Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie season in 1992-93.
After his coaching career ended, Guokas established himself as one of the sport’s premier color commentators. He worked eight seasons for NBC on its national telecasts and later spent seven seasons working on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locals broadcasts.
He rejoined the Magic as their lead TV analyst just before the 2004-05 season.
Guokas, 69, was paired with play-by-play man David Steele.
Steele will remain in his customary role, Glass said.
But Glass added that no decision has been made on who will replace Guokas.
One possibility is Jeff Turner, who played seven seasons for the Magic, from 1989-90 through 1995-96.
Turner, 51, occasionally served as Guokas’ fill-in on Magic broadcasts last season when Guokas missed games because of illness.
In recent years, NBA teams’ local broadcasters have become more and more overtly biased in favor of their teams — so much so that Commissioner David Stern said the issue was addressed during a recent NBA Board of Governors meeting.
But the Guokas and Steele tandem distinguished itself by not being homers.
In his role as color commentator, Guokas didn’t shy away from occasionally pointing out the Magic’s flaws. He did so in an understated fashion.
The Magic’s broadcasts saw a dramatic decline in ratings last season as the team posted a 20-62 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06.
The decline was blamed on the team’s plunge in the standings and on the team’s games being aired exclusively on Fox Sports Florida after they had aired on both Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports in previous seasons.
"In my opinion, and most data reflects this, that of all the components of our business, television ratings are most affected by wins and losses," Magic CEO Alex Martins told the Sentinel during an interview in March.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.