Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Vogel's happiest place on earth?

Frank Vogel actually chose the Orlando Magic.

Unlike all of the others throughout the years — Shaq, T-Mac, Dwight, Billy Donovan and, most recently, Scott Skiles — he really and truly wants to be in Orlando.

This, more than anything, is what makes the Magic's new coaching hire so meaningful.

"This organization checked off all the boxes," a giddy Vogel told me. "This is the place I felt my family and I would be happy. ... I'm confident we can create something in Orlando that's even better on all fronts than what we accomplished in Indiana."

Imagine that, a free-agent star who is actually coming to the Magic instead of leaving them.

After guiding the Indiana Pacers to five playoff appearances and two Eastern Conference Finals in six years, Vogel could have coached elsewhere, perhaps even taking over playoff teams in Memphis or Houston or jetting off to the Big Apple to coach the Knicks. But the best candidate on the market actually wanted to coach the Magic just a week after Skiles wanted NOT to coach the Magic.

This reminds me of nearly a decade ago when Donovan backed out on coaching the Magic and the club ended up with Stan Van Gundy instead. Van Gundy would go on to become the greatest coach in Magic history and lead the team to the NBA Finals two years later.

I'm not saying Vogel will have the Magic competing for a championship in two years; I'm just saying Skiles quitting might be the best thing that could have happened because Vogel is a better coach and a better fit.

"I didn't talk to him (Skiles) and I'm not worried about the situation of how he left," Vogel said. "I make my own judgments on people. ... I wanted to talk to the people in Orlando myself and see what kind of connection I had with them — and right off the bat I knew this was a great fit for me."

From the beginning, Skiles and Magic GM Rob Hennigan always seemed like an odd union between two completely different personalities. It was like Tim Tebow marrying Kim Kardashian.

Vogel and Hennigan have much more in common. They both played Division III basketball in the Northeast. Vogel says the two men hit it off immediately and have the same vision.

Unlike Skiles, who clashed with management in his last two jobs, Vogel is considered a coach who gets along with management. Let's face it, if you can work for a massive ego like Pacers president Larry Bird, you can probably work for Hennigan.

However, it's hard to fathom that Vogel and Skiles could have such a diverse opinion of where the Magic are headed. Skiles presumably quit because he thought Hennigan's roster was inherently flawed; Vogel says he took the job because the Magic's roster has so much potential.

Here's hoping Vogel is right and Skiles is wrong.

And it looks like Vogel is already a Disney disciple.

"I want to take some of Mickey's optimism," Vogel says of our famous mouse, "and spread it around our team."

After four years of noxious negativity, the Magic could use some positive pixie dust. — Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

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