But here it is. I thought it was wortht reading and this forum is so dead right now.
Magic coach hits road to bond with his players
Published August 13, 2004
How many times have we heard Orlando Magic officials say it in the last few months?
Team this. Team that. The team comes first. Individual commitment to team goals. Stay together as a team. Work together as a team.
But, first, you have to come together as a team.
Even if it's 3,000 miles away.
"Last year, we were a collection of people who wore the same uniforms and showed up at the same games, but we weren't a team," Coach Johnny Davis says. "A team cares about each other."
It would be easy to dismiss Davis' message as just more cornball coachspeak, except he's talking from a hotel room in Houston, where he just had lunch with new Magic guard Cuttino Mobley. The coach flew there from Toronto, where he visited with forward Michael Bradley. Then it was off to Los Angeles to meet with DeShawn Stevenson and Stacey Augmon. And he'll be in Aspen, Colo., today with Pat Garrity, Washington, D.C., Saturday to meet with Steve Francis and then on to Philly to break bread with Jameer Nelson.
Davis is visiting every Magic player at their homes -- on their turf; on their terms. He's not just talking about building a team, he's going the extra mile -- or, to be more precise, the extra 12,000 miles.
"We have a new team," Davis says, "and this is a great way to get to know your players when you're not under the lens of competition. A lot of times, we don't know these players as people. That's what this trip is about: Not to find out how well they shoot or defend, but to find out what's important in their lives."
At least Johnny Davis is trying.
"I've never heard of a coach tracking down players during the offseason just to come visit," Garrity says. "This is extremely cool."
Most NBA coaches are playing golf right now or relaxing in their mountain chalets or -- in the case of new Lakers Coach Rudy Tomjanovich -- probably in Tahiti, feeding grapes and giving foot massages to Kobe Bryant. Davis hasn't had a vacation since the end of the season, which is understandable. After taking over for Doc Rivers following the disastrous 1-10 start to the 2003-04 season and crash-landing the Magic to a 21-61 finish, Davis nor anybody else associated with the team really deserves a day off, do they?
"We have nothing to rest on," Davis admits.
You can second-guess the rebuilding plan of new Magic GM John Weisbrod and Davis all you want, but at least they have a plan. They are adamant that they won't let the pampered-superstar syndrome infect the locker room as it did last year when Tracy McGrady separated himself from the team and alienated teammates.
There was once last season when McGrady was knocked down by an aggressive defender -- and teammates ignored Davis' orders to retaliate and come to T-Mac's defense. Then there was the time McGrady sat out with tendinitis but chastised teammates in a televised interview during the game. Weisbrod taped the interview, gathered the team together, played the tape and told McGrady to justify his traitorous comments.
It's an old concept, but a new buzzword in sports. The Pistons weren't the most talented team in the NBA, just the best one. The Patriots weren't the most dominating team in the NFL, just the best one. The Marlins weren't the most high-priced team in baseball, just the best one. The Lightning weren't the most glamorous team in hockey, just the best one.
"A team has to sacrifice for each other," Davis says.
And, so, the coach sacrifices a few days off to board another plane and visit another player.
"The team building is done," Weisbrod says, "Time to start the team bonding."