9:33 PM EST, November 28, 2012
He isn't recognized as the Wizard of Orlando yet, but pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
The wheels in Rob Hennigan's brain go 'round and 'round. Constantly. He can't turn it off.
He's always thinking about how to make the Magic better, in the here and now and, of course, later.
"It never stops," Hennigan, the team's general manager of five months, said before the Magic faced the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night at Amway Center.
"It's 24-7 here, for sure and probably 16-7 with just with the workload."
I don't know if Hennigan is the 30-year-old boy genius who will make the Magic relevant again.
Nobody knows, really.
Should he need sounding boards, he says he mostly leans on his father, Robert, an attorney; his old college coach; and Grandma Ginger.
"I learned from her to be an independent thinker," said Hennigan before breaking into a laugh because he's about to describe himself. "And she's a little sarcastic."
I do think that he'd be a success in whatever field he tackled, even if no other job would be as unpredictable and unforgiving as being on the high wire running a sports team.
"I guess I'm not sure what the expectations were because I didn't have any to … reference," Hennigan said. "The philosophy was to do the best you can and make the most of it. It's been refreshing and challenging at the same time."
Are you kidding? That's a Pepsi taste-test commercial.
Who starts their GM career on the hot seat?
Hennigan was handed the keys and forced to trade away the franchise player.
He didn't make the decision alone, but CEO Alex Martins and the DeVos family aren't on the public firing line like Hennigan. He heard the critics say he didn't get nearly enough for Dwight Howard, even though the Magic's hands were tied.
"We try to ignore the noise, to tell you the truth," he said.
But if you're keeping score, it's only fair to point out that he was right about Andrew Bynum's knees.
Who lands their dream job only to be saddled with a Dwightmare?
"It was a little intimidating, to be honest with you," Hennigan said.
Before going forward, he had to go backward.
Hennigan will be reminded when the Magic face Howard on Sunday in L.A. that the biggest move on his resume was made before he broke in his office chair. His next biggest move better be landing a college or NBA free-agent star.
Putting the pieces back together, not dealing Dwight, that's what will define Hennigan's stay.
The Magic are not a joke as some prognosticators figured. They are respectable at 5-9, play hard and without a peep of controversy.
Under Hennigan, they try to control the message. They are as tight-lipped as the past regime was loose-lipped. Hennigan learned a lot of that in his time with the no-frills Spurs.
He says Jacque Vaughn has delivered, especially in preparing an underdog team. Hennigan likes the fact that rookies Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are on the floor.
Hennigan is visible …and invisible. He's missed only one road game and gauges his team's pulse daily. He has scouted a half-dozen games. He doesn't stand in the tunnels as the last GM (Otis Smith) did on game nights, preferring a view from a suite.
But he's down to Earth, just not a limelight guy. He's not bothered that nobody in town has ever recognized him.
"I go to some low places like in the Garth Brooks' song, 'Friends in Low Places,"' he says. "To most people, I'm just some nerdy goofball that's eating a greasy cheeseburger."
The nerdy goofball will be recognized everywhere in Orlando if he can pull the right strings behind the curtain.
Copyright © 2014, Orlando Sentinel