Cohen: Unsuspecting Former Magic Players
April 14, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: Now mainly famous for his role as a television commentator on TNT and NBA TV, Steve Kerr originally became recognized as the 3-point threat on Michael Jordan’s championship Bulls teams of the late 90’s. He was branded as a hero in 1997 when he clinched Chicago’s fifth title with a series-winning jumper. Kerr, briefly, also helped steer the Suns to an appearance in the Western Conference Finals in 2010 as general manager. CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: Before all the accolades as a player, GM and TV personality, Kerr was searching for a purpose in the NBA. After starting his career in Phoenix and jumping over to Cleveland for a three-year stint, the sharpshooter landed in Orlando via a trade during the 1992-93 season. Kerr would finish out that year with the Magic before signing a free agent contract with the Bulls that subsequent summer.
Cohen’s Analysis: While a player, who would have ever guessed that Kenny Smith would become one of the premier voices in NBA commentary? Sure, he had his time in the spotlight while with the Rockets, including capturing back-to-back NBA titles. But back then; Kenny was viewed as an unadorned, yet effective, role player.
Cohen’s Analysis: I guarantee less than one percent of all NBA fans know that Smith was a member of the Magic. And you really can’t blame anyone for not knowing this considering Kenny played in Orlando for a total of six games during the 1996-97 season – his last in the league. Smith scored 17 points, dished out four assists and shot 6-of-13 from the field with the Magic. Orlando waived him on Jan. 6, 1997.
Cohen’s Analysis: Derek Harper was never an All-Star in the NBA, but he was surely one of the more underrated point guards in league history. Though some fans still criticize Harper for his blunder during the 1984 playoffs when he dribbled out the clock with the game tied against the Lakers, Harper had a long, successful career – particularly during his tenures in Dallas and New York.
Cohen’s Analysis: We all know Dennis Scott and how popular he was in Orlando. But most don’t remember when he was traded and whom he was dealt for. Well, in 1997, the Mavericks acquired Scott from the Magic in exchange for Ed O’Bannon and yes, Derek Harper. A devastating injury to Penny Hardaway that season forced Harper to start 45 games and average 8.6 points and 3.5 assists during his one season in Orlando.
Cohen’s Analysis: Before Nate Robinson came on the scene Spud Webb was a phenomenon because of his size. So short, yet so explosive and high-flying. He was the slam-dunk champ in 1986 and was an effective scorer during his time in Atlanta and Sacramento.
Cohen’s Analysis: Spud was hanging onto his NBA career for dear life when the Magic came calling and offered him a 10-day contract in February of 1998. Webb would play in four games, score 12 points, dish out five assists before his contract expired and his career as a player in the NBA was officially over.
Cohen’s Analysis: Some people still argue that the best offensive player in NBA history is Dominique Wilkins. He averaged better than 30 points a game twice, was the scoring champ in 1985-86, was a nine-time NBA All-Star and his duel with Larry Bird during the 1988 playoffs is still regarded as the most prolific one-on-one battle in league history. Wilkins remains front and center in the Hawks organization. He works in a variety of management functions.
Cohen’s Analysis: After his illustrious years with the Hawks, the Human Highlight Film bounced around the NBA in his final several years in the league. Wilkins played with the Clippers, Celtics, Spurs and yes, Magic. Dominique, in fact, finished his playing career in the NBA in Orlando during the lockout-shortened 1999 season.
Cohen’s Analysis: Was there a player in the 90’s more ferocious than Shawn Kemp? The Reign Man was a beast for several years in Seattle. He guided the Sonics to the NBA Finals in 1996 and partnered with Gary Payton to form one of the most prolific tandems in league history.
Cohen’s Analysis: After his departure from Seattle, Kemp battled weight problems and substance abuse and never again had the same tenacity and athleticism. But, he still had enough value to help a few teams during his final few years in the NBA, including the Magic. Kemp joined the Magic in 2002-03 and helped them advance to the playoffs.
Cohen’s Analysis: If you ask most New Yorkers whom the most celebrated athlete in the city’s history is, Patrick Ewing usually is near the top of the list. Derek Jeter, Joe Namath and Micky Mantle are also on that same echelon. Ewing never won a title with the Knicks, but his accomplishments never went unnoticed.
Cohen’s Analysis: Once his days in New York were done, it was apparent injuries had gotten the best of Ewing. But, Pat still had a purpose as a player in the NBA. He transformed into a bench leader and veteran who can inspire younger, blossoming talent. That was his role in his final NBA season with the Magic. He would eventually become an assistant coach in Orlando from 2007-12.
Cohen’s Analysis: It remains one of the most treasured avowals on any sports television broadcast: “Simon says championship,” CBS analyst Billy Packer affirmed after Miles Simon helped lead the Arizona Wildcats to an NCAA title in 1997. Arizona’s victory over Kentucky in the final is still widely considered one of the biggest upsets in college hoops history.
Cohen’s Analysis: Simon was drafted by the Magic in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft. But, the darling of the prior year’s NCAA scene didn’t find his niche in the pro ranks. Miles played in five games for the Magic, but that was the extent of his NBA career before journeying off to the CBA. He actually became one of the more illustrious players ever in CBA history.