Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Legend of Lewis and the TriForce Apology

When word got out last summer that the Magic were pursuing Rashard Lewis, we were thrilled. We're big fans when the hard working near-SuperStar gets the Luigi to his Mario (equal in many ways but less popular for various reasons). We want great things for Big Baby Jesus, and we still have a man-fan-love for Coach Van Gundy. Throw in the ridiculousness of the fact that the franchise is located in Orfreakinglando, and you've got a winner in our hearts.

Then came the $127. 2 Million signing.

Look, we like Rashard's game. We're big on guys that can fill the forward/guard spot, play in the paint, hit 3s, and make magic happen.

But $127.2 Million? Good God. We wouldn't pay that much for double equipment to nail Marissa Miller. (Ed. Note: I would actually pay that much for that. Thanks. I love you, Marissa. -Corn)

So we started cracking jokes. You know the ones. "The Magic just signed a new contract with a cleaning company for $80 million. " "Otis Smith just made a huge donation to the local hospital. The endowment's called 'The Rashard Lewis Wing.'"

And we were sure this would backfire. Ginormous contracts in the NBA don't work out. Ask anyone that's ever employed Antoine Walker. Ever. This had to backfire! Then he got hurt in the preseason! Aw, man! We told you, Otis! We told you! No good! Bad juju!

Then a funny thing happened.

Rashard Lewis.

Caught fire.

He's scoring 19.8 ppg (20.3 per 40 minutes), with 4.9 rebounds and 2 assists. He leads the league in made 3 pointers, shooting 44% from beyond the arc. He's shooting 49% overall, and he's putting in solid minutes. Better yet, the Magic were the first team to hit 13 wins last night, the only team with a win over the Celtics, and the diverted defensive attention to BBJ has caused him to go Supernova.

We asked Ben Q from essential Magic blog Third Quarter Collapse and here's what he had to say about Rashard:
"Rashard has been a blessing. It's easy to clown on the Magic for giving him that huge payday, but they weren't really paying him for his skills; they were paying him for his ability to open up the floor for Dwight Howard, who is having an MVP-caliber season. At the time of the deal, I thought the Magic were making a big mistake because they could have kept Darko Milicic and Gerald Wallace, another fringe-level All-Star, for the same amount of money. But there's no way the Magic would be 13-3 if they had gone that route, just as there's no way Dwight Howard would be averaging 22 and 14.

But it's not just Howard who's benefiting from Lewis' presence. Hedo Turkoglu, another 6'10" small forward who hardly defends or rebounds, is having a career season thanks to Rashard. It all has to do with matchups. Other teams put their center on Howard, but then have to assign their power forward to cover either Lewis or Turkoglu. Most power forwards are loathe to roam the perimeter guarding Lewis and Turkoglu, which means mismatches abound on every single night."

And so here we are. And we're forced with something we never like to do here, unless charges are threatened. Apologize. Now, it's still early. And we know that there's still a lot of season to go. So we're not going to go all the way, yet, Rashard. Oh, no, you won't get our full apology just yet.

You have fulfilled the first part of your quest. You made it through training camp and preseason without serious injury or derailing your locker room before the season began, and you have given them the spark necessary to establish themselves early. But you must still reach the All-Star Game with the same level of hotness, and help take your team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Only then will you receive the full power of our TriForce Apology.

Congratulations! You have gained 1/3 of the HP TriForce Apology!

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