Well, I don’t know about you guys out there, but I’m nowhere near over losing that playoff series to the Hawks. It’s going to take me a long, long time to get over losing in the first round. I really thought we had the kind of team to do something special in the playoffs and I went in with really high hopes, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. That doesn’t make it any easier to take and it’ll be much later this summer before I can stop thinking about losing to the Hawks.
To tell you the truth, I could care less about even watching the playoffs now. I hardly even watched any of the games this weekend because it’s just too painful to think about us being done for the year. It was that way last year when we lost to the Celtics in the East Finals. I didn’t even watch the Finals with the Lakers and Celtics at all. It just killed me thinking about how we should have still been playing.
I think the thing that bothers me the most is that we didn’t play hard consistently against the Hawks. We didn’t play hard every night the way that the Hawks did. We talked about it all year and it showed in the playoffs. That’s why we’re done. It’s not about making shots or missing free throws. The team that won this series played harder, and that’s why the Hawks are moving on and we’re not.
The year we went to the Finals we played harder than everybody else. We weren’t the best team or the most talented team in the NBA, but we played hard. But we could never get that every night against Atlanta. We were always falling way behind and having to play catch up. You just can’t win big series like that.
People started asking me about my contract right after we lost even though I have a contract through next season. It’s not like I was thinking about that stuff right away, and really my answer is going to be the same next season: I’m a member of the Magic, I love the Magic and I’m just focused on trying to bring a title to the city of Orlando.
Magic fans in Orlando and everywhere else deserve a championship. Our fans have been so faithful and have always supported everything that I have done in my seven years in the league, and I’d love nothing more than to get this thing right and bring a championship to Orlando next season.
I want to thank the people out there who have created some websites trying to keep me in Orlando. That means a lot to me seeing that outpouring of love. I’ll never be able to thank each and every one of you Magic fans out there, but your cheers and support keep me driving and pushing to better myself so we can win a title here.
My plans are to get better this summer. I worked extremely hard last summer, making 1,000 shots a day and living in the weight room. All season, I could see how much that hard work paid off with the growth in my game. Now, I’m going to work even harder because I want to be the best player in the game and I want my team in a position to play for a championship next spring.
I also want to thank everybody out there for growing their beards out late in the season. I was amazed how quickly “Fear the Beard” caught on in Orlando and it just goes to show you how passionate Magic fans are when it comes to supporting their team. I was hoping that we’d keep winning in the playoffs and my whiskers would get sooooo long, but it didn’t happen. I’ve got to admit to you guys that I had my barber clean my face up that very next day after we lost to the Hawks because I just didn’t feel right with whiskers all over my face. I did keep my goatee for now, but truthfully I prefer keeping my baby face!!!
Well, I have another busy summer ahead of me travelling all over the globe. But regardless of where I am, I will be hard at work on my game – believe that!!! I’m going to do whatever I can this summer to make sure that we’re never at home again after the first round of the playoffs. It’s a sick feeling being out of it already, and I’m going to use this feeling to drive me all summer to get better.
Well, I’m out of here for now. Hang in there Magic fans. The pain of losing will fade eventually and we’ll make another run again. Things will get better in the future, I promise you that!!! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!