After LeBron James said he was one of the 4 best player’s in NBA history, analysts went to work trying to determine who the best four players were in any context. Orlando Pinstriped Post’s Evan Dunlap named Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard as the Orlando Magic’s four best players, their Mount Rushmore. He was absolutely right, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.
The real Mount Rushmore is a celebration of greatness. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were all some of the great presidents, revered for moving this country forward. In a way, the Orlando Magic Rushmore is similar. All four are great players, but their relationship with the Magic is deeply flawed in ways that prevent Magic fans from ever truly loving them.
Shaq took the Magic to the franchise’s first NBA finals, and then bailed a year later to join the Los Angeles Lakers. Does a player really belong on a team’s Mount Rushmore if the bulk of his career and championships came for another franchise? His four years in Orlando are like a one-term President, and there are no one-term presidents on Rushmore.
Penny’s body betrayed him and prevented him from fulfilling his potential. He deserves equal credit for helping the Magic reach the finals but without Shaq it all went down hill. He gains in comparison because the other players left Orlando in much more devastating ways. Frustration has turned to love over time, but he might be the JFK of this monument.
McGrady became a star in Orlando, but his game was another reminder of what could have been. With Grant Hill sidelined, he was a great player on average teams. Is a President great if the country struggles during his term? Frustrated with the losing, McGrady eventually forced his way out, a common theme in Orlando.
Howard may actually have the best case for the Magic Rushmore, but the fans would revolt if it ever happened. His eight years were the longest tenure of any of the big 4. He took the team to the NBA Finals as well, but fans hate him. He made the fatal mistake of being indecisive, a death-knell for a leader. Time may heal that wound eventually, but not yet.
Maybe the Orlando Magic’s Rushmore hasn’t been carved yet. Or maybe it’s populated by beloved role players like Bo Outlaw, Darell Armstrong, and Jameer Nelson. Maybe someone on the current squad can carve out his own legacy.
What do you think? Who deserves to be on the Orlando Magic’s Mount Rushmore? Let us know in the comments section below!