The Orlando Magic have had some very talented "on paper" teams in their relatively short history. We have seen their young squads grow, decline, fall, re-build, grow and fall again.
If there has been one constant, I would say that this franchise has never had a killer instinct.
Whether it's the curse of Nick Anderson's missed free throws or the gut-wrenching departure of Shaquille O'Neal, I feel the need to point this out in slide form.
So here it is, Coach HZL's opinionated look at the history of the Orlando Magic's complete lack of killer instinct.
Oh, and a quick peek at today's team who are probably the most guilty party.
I know he has left for the Nation's capital, but Rashard Lewis was a shining example of Orlando's recent spate of futility.
I witnessed Lewis laughing and playing around with teammates while enduring close losses for Orlando on more than a few occasions. If I'm coach Stan Van Gundy, I'm actually happy that this guy is gone. SVG is so high strung for every game that seeing someone openly accept a loss like that must have nearly killed him.
Killer Instinct score: 5/10
Now we know this guy is undersized, but there's no excuse for not giving 100 percent.
Poor defensive efforts at crucial times and a myriad of mental lapses while running the Magic offense put Jameer Nelson in this slideshow.
Leaving Derek Fisher open for that crucial trey in the 2009 NBA Finals stands out as Jameer Nelson's ultimate evidence of a lack of killer instinct in my opinion.
Killer Instinct score: 3/10
When Horace Grant got to Orlando, he quickly became the leader they needed. He helped mold the young Orlando Magic into title contenders in his first season in Florida.
No one can ever question Grant's killer instinct, and I dare say he may be the first and only player to ever consistently display this trait in a Magic uniform.
Killer Instinct score: 8/10
Arguably the most talented player featured within this slideshow. Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway to me was always looking up to the greats which prevented him from truly being considered their peer.
He always seemed like a kid in a candy store, rather than possessing any resemblance to an assassin.
With amazing passing and scoring ability, it was never a case of "Eff you! I'm Penny Hardaway!" That is what I believe held back the Memphis native.
Killer Instinct score: 5/10
I'll start with this thought, can you imagine how terrifying Alonzo Mourning would have been with Dwight Howard's height, leap and agility?
The recent technical fouls are ridiculous and are about to cost the Magic some games down the stretch. The postgame pouting to the media about calls is a disgrace, and the complete lack of "take over" mentality make Dwight Howard the most disappointing feature of this slideshow.
Now, I really like Dwight, I just wish I could see him turn into the Incredible Hulk rather than a whiny Clark Kent.
The day Dwight Howard gets angry and learns to pass effectively out of trouble, is the day Florida will host the entire Eastern Conference Finals series for multiple years running.
Or, he'll learn it in LA?
Killer Instinct score: 4/10 (with the potential to be 11/10)
I'll be honest, listening to Vince Carter speak has me thinking he's probably one of the nicest guys in the NBA.
But bringing VC to the Magic was such an Orlando-like move. He fit in perfectly and predictably the Magic went backwards.
Killer Instinct score: 2/10
Nick Anderson played his backside off and got the best out of his ability. The fact is, you can't talk lack of killer instinct and not mention the missed free throws in the 1995 NBA Finals. Err, twice.
The Orlando Magic's infamous No. 25 does redeem some respect though for the steal from Michael Jordan in the Conference Finals of the same postseason.
Killer Instinct score: 5/10
Ok, so we know McGrady nailed 13 points in 33 seconds to defeat the Spurs, but that was in a Rockets jersey.
Anyone who leads an eighth-seeded team to a 3-1 series lead, mouths off to the media about how good it is to "finally be in the position to advance to the second round (of the playoffs)," and then loses the next three games by an average of 20 points must be on this list.
So, so Orlando.
Killer Instinct score: 6/10
There's no denying that Shaquille O'Neal became the most dominant NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain, but it's safe to say that this was most apparent in Los Angeles, not Orlando.
Whether it was Fu-Schnickens, Kazaam or some other crazy behavior, Shaq didn't find his killer instinct until he found Phil Jackson.
I think we can also partially blame Hakeem Olajuwon, who practically ripped Shaq's heart out and showed it to him during the 1995 NBA Finals.
Killer Instinct score: 5/10 (11/10 while in Los Angeles)
Orlando fans, here's your guy.
Gilbert Arenas, love him or hate him is the most assassin-like player your franchise has ever seen.
This man is 29 years old, 6'3", has absolutely no conscience and reacts to green lights faster than Superman ever did (no Dwight Howard pun intended).
Forget the past indiscretions, if Orlando is going to be anything in the history books, Gilbert Arenas needs to be let off the leash.
Killer Instinct score: 8/10 (With the potential to be 13/10)
With names like Ike Austin, Andrew DeClerq, Bo Outlaw, Pat Garrity, Mike Miller, Marcin Gortat, Drew Gooden and Darko Milicic all having donned the Orlando uniform, is there any wonder the Orlando Magic are yet to claim this piece of hardware?
With Dwight Howard's free agency on the horizon, if I were an Orlando fan I would be less worried about Gilbert Arenas and more worried about Howard himself.
History states that Orlando has never produced a home-grown assassin. Maybe it will change, maybe it won't.
Good luck Orlando fans.
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