Source: John Denton, NBA.com/magic
ORLANDO – On the surface, 300 coaching victories over parts of eight NBA seasons doesn’t seem to be overly impressive. It’s roughly a .520 winning percentage in a league where the games come in rapid-fire succession over marathon-like regular seasons that span a seven-month period of time.
However, dig a little deeper into that 300-victory milestone – one that Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel eclipsed in spectacular fashion on Wednesday – and you will see that there’s an art and certainly great skill in being able to coax greatness out of teams over the long haul of a NBA season.
Some of Vogel’s finest work in his nearly eight-year career as a NBA head coach was on display on Wednesday at the Amway Center when the Magic whipped the Milwaukee Bucks, 126-117.
First off, everything seemed to be set up for the Magic to suffer what is often referred to the NBA as a “schedule loss.’’ Not only did they enter on a five-game losing streak and arrive in Orlando at approximately 2:30 a.m. following an ugly defeat a night earlier in San Antonio, the Magic were coming off a taxing 10-day, five-game road trip that spanned approximately 6,328 miles and four time zones.
Vogel, who has a knack for mixing fiery with friendly, wanted nothing to do with excuses and he told his bleary-eyed team as much when it arrived at the Amway Center Wednesday afternoon. He also debunked the notion that the team isn’t playing for anything because it has been out of the chase for a playoff spot for weeks by “strongly reminding them of the importance of what we’re doing, quite frankly, and that we’re going to turn it around.’’
Vogel’s message – one peppered, at times, with some blue language – was about as subtle as a punch in the mouth, and ultimately his Magic responded with the appropriate fight. They shot the ball as well as they have all season, shared it as Vogel has been preaching for weeks and came alive every time Milwaukee and superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo put together a run. Magic spurts of 13-0 (in the first quarter after a sluggish start), 14-0 (in the third quarter after Milwaukee had taken the lead) and 13-2 (in the fourth quarter after the Bucks had closed to within 95-90) guaranteed Orlando a victory that had Vogel’s fingerprints all over it.
In addition to candidly addressing his team prior to the game and reiterating the message to the media 100 minutes prior to tipoff, Vogel stalked the sidelines all game long, used his timeouts liberally for rest for his players and shouted out both peppy encouragement and sharp critiques to the refereeing crew. During one end-of-the-shot-clock sequence, he barked out “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …’’ to his players to remind them he was right there in the fight alongside of them.
Clearly, this game mattered to Vogel – as all of them have since he methodically worked his way up from video coordinator to long-shot interim head coach at the NBA level back in 2011. No matter the fatigue from a long trip, no matter the standings from a frustration-filled season, on this night it really mattered to Vogel, and both he and his players showed it against the Bucks.
To continue reading, click here: Vogel Grateful After Notching 300th Career Coaching Win