The 25th Anniversary season is upon us and the Magic are making their preparations and celebrations and releasing them slowly as the season gets set to begin. It is definitely a time for celebration.
The Orlando Sentinel is joining in on the fun now with their Bracket Buster series, a 64-player tournament to determine who the best player in Magic history is. Your top overall seeds are Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady and Anfernee Hardaway. Those are the four you would expect to get to the final four.
There were some interesting omissions and inclusions too, however. Aside from Grant Hill earning a two seed over Jameer Nelson (3 seed), Hedo Turkoglu (3 seed) and Darrell Armstrong (4 seed), there were some curious decisions from the Orlando Sentinel. Cuttino Mobley, who played all of 23 games with the Magic, made it as a 14 seed. Vince Carter is a 4 seed despite his somewhat disappointing year in Magic pinstripes. Kenny Smith and Steve Kerr are the 8/9 matchup in one of the regions. Bo Outlaw is a 14 seed.
And the list goes on.
The major exclusions go to Rashard Lewis and Steve Francis. As one reader noted, Francis was the only player in Magic history to average 20 points per game alongside Dwight Howard. He did so Howard's rookie year as the centerpiece of the McGrady trade. How these two got left off is another matter for debate and speculation.
The tournament is meant to spark this kind of discussion and debate. That is exactly what I and Adam Papageorgiou of Magic Basketball Online did with Carson Ingle on The Sports Angle on 740 AM in Orlando. We discussed the bracket, some of its shortcomings and what we expect to happen as the Sentinel plays out this tournament:
Again, the finalists appear to be the obvious guys. Maybe Victor Oladipo really should be the 16-seed in one region. Probably not.
Those are fun arguments to make -- and I am working on my own list at the moment -- but they are just fun. Don't take it personally if your favorite player does not make it as far as you would like.
Debates are fun. But this thing already appears to be off to a bad start -- as of 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, Victor Oladipo was leading Penny Hardaway by about 220 votes. Hopefully time and advancing through the tournament will correct some of these inconsistencies and give us a fair result.
The Sentinel will have Round 1 open until Oct. 13 (Sunday). Second round voting begins Monday. The voting will close Nov. 1 when the Sentinel will announce the winner before the first home game.