Orlando Magic Daily is leaving the TrueHoop Network. Inevitable though it may be that the network will have turnover, nobody loves saying goodbye, especially as everyone involved has done tremendous work.
Some back story: Orlando Magic Daily has several contributors (here's look at you Philip Rossman-Reich and Michael Gavin) but the founder and central figure was always Zach McCann. He's a great guy and a tremendous talent. When Kevin Arnovitz and I talk about TrueHoop Network bloggers, we often talk about looking for the people who, back in the day when such jobs existed, would have been hired as your local team's up-and-coming beat writer.
Well, guess what. Despite the state of the newspaper industry, that has basically what happened. Since he started Orlando Magic Daily, McCann has become the Orlando Sentinel's beat writer for high-school baseball, soccer, golf and swimming. In addition, he may be the youngest sports columnist in Sentinel history. He also does a ton of other work for the paper, including covering some University of Central Florida sports, laying out pages, copy editing and the like. There has been talk all this may lead to his joining the paper's Magic writing staff at some point, which would make a lot of sense.
And all of which has, understandably, not left a ton of time for McCann to dote on his TrueHoop Network blog.
So, with a huge thank you for making us all look good with his tremendous work covering one of the NBA's most important teams, we wish Zach McCann all the best as he joins Kurt Helin in leaving the TrueHoop Network via the best possible route: A call-up to the big leagues.
Welcome Magic Basketball
McCann is a tough act to follow.
But if anyone is up to the task, I like Eddy Rivera's chances.
He's an Orlando native studying to get his journalism masters at Northwestern. He's also an accomplished Magic blogger, having teamed with Ben Q. Rock on one of the basketball blogosphere's gems, the former Third-Quarter Collapse which is now known as the Orlando Pinstriped Post. That blog has won all kinds of accolades, including being voted the best sports blog in Orlando by Sentinel readers.
Rivera is already in the bloodstream of Magic fans. He has a little of the stat geek in him (he considered getting a degree in accounting, before the journalism bug got him) and tells me that despite attending school in Chicago, he has covered 31.7% of the Magic's home games this season. He covered last year's playoff run with several noteworthy posts. And his work through that process has been noticed. For instance: The Orlando television broadcasters, David Steele and Matt Guokas, have cited Rivera on air, by name, a few times. He has talked Magic in places like the Pro Basketball Prospectus and on the Kamenetzky brothers' hilarious podcast. Rivera has interviewed every Magic player multiple times, as well as all kinds of characters hanging around the Orlando Pro Summer League, from Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing to James Harden, Jrue Holiday and David Thorpe.
Eddy's new blog is already up and running. It's called Magic Basketball. But here's the deal. It's at MagicBasketball.net, not .com. So, of course, even though the name of the blog is Magic Basketball, my mind can't help but remember it as Magic Basketball Net, which would be a good name for a children's tale about some kind of genie that lives in the twine under the basket at your local park. But I digress.
On Magic Basketball, Rivera has already published all kinds of great, brainy, fun-to-read stuff, including a fantastic piece tracing the Magic's progression from one of the NBA's lesser known stories to the behemoth they are now, as well as a thoughtful and number-crunchy look at who should win the NBA's various awards and a two-part Q+A with the Raptors team stat geeks.
We're very pleased to welcome Eddy Rivera and Magic Basketball to the TrueHoop Network, even as it's not at all hard to envision a day when he too will get a call-up to the major leagues, just like his predecessor.