Orlando should be asking itself what it would do for a title with the 2010-11 season set to start.
It is the ultimate question every fan has to ask at the end and beginning of each season. If you could make some sort of Faustian bargain to give your team a title. It was something T-Mac over at Bust a Bucket considered back in September.
It is difficult for a fan to measure how much a title is worth -- especially when they have never experienced a championship.
For everyone within the organization of the team, the title is everything. No one will honestly be able to call this season a success if it falls anywhere short of a championship. Even fans can say that.
But when you take a step back and think about this era of Magic basketball, what would it be worth for one title?
Referring back to the article at Bust a Bucket, he proposes some odd scenarios for that one title:
"1) The L*kers will win the next 10 NBA titles after Portland wins, while the Blazers will not make the playoffs at all during that time and be plagued by David Kahn-like mis-management.
"4) Every single one of your favorite all-time Portland players will fall from grace and become completely hated over the course of the next six months. Think drug smuggling, punching pregnant off-duty cops, stealing hot-air balloons, etc.
"6) No current or future Blazer will ever get any national honors (all-star, all-NBA or Olympic teams) again.
"Those are your options--you have to pick one randomly to guarantee an amazing, life-changing title! Do you do it?!"
Those are some interesting scenarios to consider (and there are more personal and comedic scenarios if you click on the link to the article) for just one title.
Would one title be worth years of mediocrity and mismanagement with no prospect of winning the title? Would one title be worth changing your perception of your favorite players? Would one title be worth never having a good team again?
While coaches, players and front office executives are rightly focused on each individual season. Until the season is over, what happens next year doesn't matter.
Fans though are in it for the long haul. The coaches and players change, the fans do not. So is one title worth sacrificing future seasons and success?
Having survived the Tracy McGrady and post-Shaq eras in Magic basketball, right now is simply glorious. Orlando has never had this much sustained success in the team's history. But we know it can all end very quickly -- as we learned in 1996 when Shaquille O'Neal skipped town. You HAVE to win a title when the opportunity presents itself -- no matter how young or unprepared the team might be for that moment (think 1995 and 2009).
So, again, what would you give up for a title?
It is tough for me to say. Nothing would make me happier than seeing the Magic win their first NBA title. But I do not have any idea what that feeling is like. As someone who followed the team through some dark times, I have always said I would rather be a mediocre team making the playoffs every year than have one or two catastrophic seasons. Then again, that is a short-sighted view as our one disastrous season in 2004 netted us Dwight Howard. And that obviously changed everything.
There are plenty of fans who would say they would give up anything to win that one title. There are plenty of fans who believe Orlando should do whatever it takes to win a title, even if it means sacrificing depth and future cap flexibility. It is very difficult to argue against those positions as well.
For a team with very little history (in the scheme of NBA history), what is better for its fans who have never experienced a title? Going to the conference finals for five or six straight years or winning one title and then disappearing into obscurity (like the Florida Marlins in 1997 or even the Heat in 2006 to a certain extent)?
Hard to say when you have never won a title.
My preference is continued success even without a title. But even I would likely get tired of not winning a title at some point. It is hard to say when you don't know.
Don't get me wrong, I expect a title this year. I made that clear in my predictions and I am on the record of saying the Magic will win the 2011 NBA Championship (in an admittedly homer pick). If Orlando fails to win a title, it is pretty obvious this team needs to make tweaks to get to that championship level. And whenever you make changes there is a risk that it will upset chemistry and cause the Magic to fall.
But should Orlando sacrifice the potential of re-signing Dwight Howard or upsetting him to win a title? Probably not if it is too risky. With Howard in the lineup, Orlando should be considered a title contender.
A lot of this is hard to say. But with 2010-11 starting tonight against Washington, you have to wonder about this.
So I ask the question again:
What would you do for a title?