Running off at the typewriter …
Dear Orlando Magic: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your window of opportunity has closed before it even opened.
Now that NBA superstar Kevin Love is set to join fellow NBA superstars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, the rebuilding Magic have absolutely no chance of competing for a championship for at least the next five seasons. Then again, neither does anybody else. With LeBron (29 years old), Love (26) and Irving (22), the Cavaliers now have a "Big Three" that is younger and better than the "Big Three" in Miami that reached four straight NBA Finals and won two championships.
Sadly, when the LeBron and Chris Bosh moved to Miami and joined Dwyane Wade, it effectively closed the window on the Dwight Howard-led Magic being able to contend. Now with LeBron and Love moving to Cleveland to join Irving, the Magic — even if their rebuilding is successful — will be playing for the silver medal.
Let's face it, if Al Davis were alive today and owned an NBA team, his amended mantra would be: "Just finish in second place, baby!"
SHORT STUFF: Hey, everybody run for cover! Tiger just pulled out his driver!!! … It's official: The Power Five conferences now have the autonomy to offer their athlete-students all the inducements and perks they want. The only difference between now and before is it's going to be legal. … Speaking of autonomy, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder says college football has "sold out" to the almighty dollar. This, of course, comes only a few months after Snyder signed a five-year contract extension worth 15 million of those almighty dollars. …Who is Jack Nicklaus kidding with his nice-guy act? At least the '72 Dolphins are honest about it. Why won't the Golden Bear just come out and admit he pops the cork on a bottle of champagne every time Tiger crashes and burns at another major? …
Shame on ESPN for the two-day suspension of its most talented TV and radio personality — Miami resident Dan LeBatard — after LeBatard funded a billboard in Cleveland that tauntingly read, "You're welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami." The billboard showed a photograph of the two championship rings LeBron won with the Heat. This was obviously all done in fun, but the suits up in Bristol showed once again why they should rebrand their network as "The Worldwide Sourpusses." … Let me see if I've got this straight: It's OK for FSU to give Jameis Winston thousands of dollars to pay the premium on his $10-million insurance policy, but they can't give him $20 to buy a crab-leg dinner? … True story: South Carolina self-reported an NCAA violation which involved providing prospects impermissible cookie cakes. I guess this means Steve Spurrier is no longer the HBC (Head Ball Coach); he's now the HPC (Head Pastry Chef). …
Kevin Durant withdrew from Team USA earlier this week, citing "physical and mental fatigue" as the reason. Yes, he's mentally and physically fatigued all right — mentally and physically fatigued from replaying the horrific broken leg suffered by Team USA compadre Paul George. And who can blame him? I agree with Mark Cuban: NBA teams are crazy for allowing their $100-million investments to play for free while the International Olympic Committee is raking in billions. Who does the IOC think it is, anyway — the SEC? …
How can you not root for the Orlando Predators and first-year coach Rob Keefe after all they've been through this year? Your hometown Preds were kicked out of the Amway Center and have been stuck playing in front of a bunch of empty seats out at UCF this season. Not only that, but they had been without an owner until timeshare mogul David Siegel nobly stepped up recently and bought the team. Now the Preds, who play the top-seeded Cleveland Gladiators on Sunday, are one victory away from playing in their first Arena Bowl in eight years. And not only has Keefe been coaching this team, he told me earlier this week that he spent money out of his own pocket to keep the Preds operating this season. "I consider myself part-owner of this team," Keefe said. Let's give it up for Keefe and his team!
Don't forget, you can click on OrlandoSentinel.com and read the wildly popular Open Mike blog and interactive extravaganza to get my freshest takes on what's happening in the world of sports. Here's a blog about former Magic point guard Jameer Nelson and his relationship with former Magic center Dwight Howard:
Did Dwight Howard really and truly try to recruit his old Orlando Magic little buddy Jameer Nelson to the Houston Rockets?
I asked Jameer to respond to those very rumors and rumblings on our Open Mike radio show earlier this week and Jameer's non-answer was extremely telling.
"I plead the Fifth," replied Jameer, who was waived by the rebuilding Magic during this offseason and recently signed a free-agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
Translation: Howard tried to get Nelson to come to Houston, where they could certainly use a seasoned point guard who knows better than anyone how to play with Dwight
Thank goodness for Magic fans Jameer signed with the Mavericks instead. Can you imagine if he actually had signed with the Rockets, and Jameer and Dwight somehow teamed up to win a championship in Houston — and not Orlando? Ohmygawd — even more than Shaq leaving Orlando for L.A. all those years ago — Dwight and Jameer combining for a title elsewhere would have been the ultimate punch in the gut for Magic fans.
There was a time a decade ago when Dwight and Jameer were inseparable. They both were acquired by the Magic in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft and became the best of friends, the yin and the yang and the nucleus of the last Magic rebuilding and renovation project.
Then came the well-publicized falling-out when Dwight forced his way out of Orlando, but Jameer says now that those fences have been mended.
"We've talked on the phone quite a bit and texted quite a bit [during the summer]," Jameer says. "Our relationship and friendship is still there. There is no bad blood or hard feelings. ... It's a business. ... I've seen a lot of guys come and go in Orlando and I've gained a lot of friends. Dwight is one of those who I can say is a friend."
So long, Jameer.
You will be missed.
You already are.
Most interesting reader retorts, radio rabble, tangy tweets and message-board mockery of the week:
On my column about Urban Meyer's wife calling Gators and SEC fans more "dirty and mean" than their counterparts in the Big Ten: "As a Gator fan, I resemble that remark."
On my column about how the UCF Knights need to prove that last season wasn't a fluke: "How are they supposed to do that when last season WAS a fluke!"
On my column about the NFL penalizing players more for smoking marijuana than physically abusing women: "Only in pro football can a punch in the face get you a slap on the wrist."
Three of my favorite quotes from the late-night talk shows this week:
"LeBron James reportedly lost a lot of weight since he announced he was returning to Cleveland. When asked how much he dropped, he said, 'How much do Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh weigh?' " — Jimmy Fallon
"The San Antonio Spurs have made history by becoming the first team in the NBA to hire a female assistant coach. She is the first woman to get that close to that many NBA players without being a Kardashian." — Conan O'Brien
"It is our president's birthday. It's also the birthday of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon and President Obama are very different, of course. One's a guy who spent his whole life turning left and is hated by NASCAR fans. And the other one? Jeff Gordon." — Craig Ferguson
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740 AM.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun