The news made the rounds Friday afternoon and sent a shockwave through longtime followers and watchers of the Orlando Magic. Matt Guokas will not be calling Magic games for the 2013-14 season after the team opted not to renew his contract, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Guokas has been calling games for the Magic and their local broadcast since 2005. After being the inaugural coach for the Magic from 1989 until 1993, Guokas was also a fixture on national NBC broadcasts. He, along with David Steele, are counted among the best local broadcast teams in the league.
It is tough to see that go. Orlando Magic fans got an informed, entertaining and smooth broadcast from the duo. Guokas always had quick wit and great information to give to fans. He was one of the early adopters of advanced stats and was a known reader of Magic content across the Internet -- he referenced Orlando Pinstriped Post and other blogs several times on broadcasts.
Guokas is one of those rare broadcasters who could distill complex basketball situations into something a basic audience can understand and comprehend. He also had great wit and is one of the few local broadcasters who was not a complete homer. He broadcast games largely without bias and did not pull punches when the occasion called for it.
He also had extreme experience in the league. Before becoming the Magic's first coach and a coach for the Sixers when they had Moses Malone and Julius Erving, Guokas was a 10-year pro for the Sixers, Bulls and Royals. He played with Wilt Chamberlain and could wax poetically about the history of the game.
That knowledge added a lot to the broadcast. David Steele, Guokas' broadcast partner, is happy to be back but is sad to see his broadcast partner go.
@jimshafran Thanks Jim.I'll miss Matty..sure you will too.Look forward to working with you next season.You're one of the best!— David Steele (@SteeleMagic) May 25, 2013
The reasons for the Magic not renewing Guokas' contract is not entirely clear. There is no need for speculation.
The next step for the Magic is to find a new color analyst and remake the broadcast with a new voice. There are plenty of candidates.
Jeff Turner filled in for Guokas during a late-season road trip as Guokas dealt with a health issue. He was the team's radio analyst for several years. Richie Adubato has also filled in for Guokas on occassion on the TV broadcast and has been the team's radio analyst for several years now too.
Among other potential candidates (and there is no information whether they are being considered or interested) could be Dennis Scott, who works as a studio analyst for NBATV. Scott was also the TV analyst for the Hawks for several years and he lives in Atlanta. Nick Anderson and Tony Battie have acted as studio analysts alongside Paul Kennedy throughout the year.
Jack "Goose" Givens is still out there too. He was the TV analyst for the Magic before Guokas, but was let go after he was accused of sexual battery of a teenager he was coaching. Givens was eventually acquitted of those charges. He is still a local coach and basketball organizer.
Magic broadcasts suffered a bit in ratings this year, which was to be expected with the team struggling record wise. One thing is for sure, Magic broadcasts will be very different next year.
Either way, Matt Guokas will be missed on the air.