When you get the chance, do me a favor.
Turn on your television, switch to ESPN, and watch SportsCenter. Have a pen and piece of paper handy, you'll need it for this experiment.
Every time they mention LeBron James or his Cleveland Cavaliers, make a tally. Whenever the Boston Celtics or one of their players is mentioned, make another mark on your paper. If the Pistons are mentioned, do the same. Make sure your marks are small so you don't run out of ink.
Now, take out a separate piece of paper and keep a new tally. Every time the Orlando Magic are mentioned during the broadcast, make a tally. Chances are, your paper will have a single mark—if that—by the end of the hour.
Why is it that the Celtics, Pistons, and Cavaliers get all of the attention in the Eastern Conference?
"When they start talking about the Eastern Conference [on TV], all I keep hearing about are the Celtics, the Pistons, even the Cavaliers. I want to change that," says Orlando's Dwight Howard.
The most attention the Magic have received this season came over All-Star weekend when Howard donned a Superman costume and easily won the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Then he returned to Orlando and has led the Magic to an 8-3 record since the break.
The big man receives tons of attention as Superman but barely any when he succeeds in his day job. Dwight can relate to Clark Kent an awful lot right now.
Let's look at some reasons the Magic deserve some attention:
- As of today, the Magic are 41-24, and have already surpassed their win total for last season (40). They are on pace to win over fifty games and have a 3.5 game lead over Cleveland for the third seed in East.
- They are only trailing Detroit by six games and have a shot at securing the second seed in the conference. They are also the only team in the entire NBA to defeat both the Pistons and Celtics twice this season.
- They have many weapons at their disposal including a very impressive big three of their own in Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rashard Lewis (who are averaging a combined 59.9 points and 25.8 rebounds).
- They are tied for most road wins in the league with twenty-two and have a very comfortable lead in the Southeast Division with a nine game lead over the Washington Wizards.
One positive for Orlando is that they thrive as underdogs. When they aren't receiving attention or respect, they go into an "us against the world" mode where proving people wrong becomes more important than breathing.
Just take a look at some of the recent quotes from Orlando's players.
Last week, Lewis told a reporter, "A lot of the talk is about Boston and Detroit and even Cleveland some, but we want to try and make our statement come playoff time"
"Go ahead and sleep on us, label us as underdogs, and we'll be the team to surprise you in the playoffs,” he added.
Howard had something similar to say. "Keep on overlooking us, and we'll keep on playing like we have all season. Nobody is looking at us, and we're trying to feed off of that. It'll motivate us come playoff time."
Based off of those quotes, the Magic players have one thing on their mind:
Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit can get all of this press and airtime they want right now, because come April, the Magic will have all eyes on them when it matters most.
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