Enough With Puppets—How About a Cinderella?

Seth HengContributor IJune 4, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic hugs teammate Anthony Johnson #8 in celebration on the court after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 30, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are the two puppets—I mean faces—of the league.  The NBA is driven by marketing these two "superstar" players. However, during the 2008-2009 NBA Playoffs, both players have come into scrutiny because of their bizarre behaviors.  Kobe "You Can't Guard Me!" Bryant showed off his arrogance attitude during Game Three between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets when he was continuously scowling and screaming at Shane Battier, "You can't guard me!" 

Battier, who is one of the most professional players in the league, was just doing his assignment and actually was not paying attention to Kobe, since the Rockets did take the Lakers to Game Seven without two of their All-Star players, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. 

The NBA's other pride and joy is this year's MVP, LeBron "Sore Loser" James, who showed an unsportsmanlike character as he exited Amway Arena after his Cleveland Cavaliers was defeated in Game 5 to an underrated Orlando Magic team.  Without congratulating Dwight Howard and the rest of the Magic, LeBron abruptly left the arena without speaking to the media, and hopped on the team bus waiting to go back to Cleveland. 

I guess sweeping both the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks was OK for LeBron to celebrate and shake their hands, but when the Magic fairly beat the Cavaliers, it was not OK to congratulate the better team. 

As LeBron showed a childish behavior and Kobe's arrogance that was seen by many fans and admirers, the message from the NBA is clear: It is OK to be cocky and unsportsmanlike.

The NBA should ditch these two puppets and should start a marketing campaign that promotes unity, respect, and teamwork. The Orlando Magic has shown these characteristics as they flew under the radar throughout the whole season and playoffs. 

After losing Jameer Nelson for the rest of the season, the Magic bounced back with the help of Rafer Alston and have reached the NBA Finals for the second time in franchise history. Stan Van Gundy and the Magic have been underestimated and unappreciated.  Some said the Magic could not win Game Seven against an explosive Philadelphia 76ers, and the majority did not favor them to win in either of their matchups against the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Through a roller-coaster season, they have came together and played great basketball to reach this new height.  If they win or lose in the NBA Finals, their run this season has shown greatness, integrity, and heart, which makes the Orlando Magic a great "Cinderella Story."

David Stern should review the antics and personalities of both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James so in the future, his marketing campaign should add more of a team concept instead of individuality.  As Game One of the NBA Finals approaches, mostly everyone is wondering if Kobe can win his fourth ring, but another story that should be noted is if the Orlando Magic can have a fairy-tale ending to their Cinderella Story.