Many athletes and sports teams have had to rebuild after devastating losses in order for their careers to move forward. The key question is, how do you make a rebuilding process tolerable?

The “the power of positive thinking” is a phrase that many people use to describe the benefits of having a positive attitude. However, it is not always as easy as it seems. There are times when one needs tangible progress more than flimsy positivity to make another rebuild tolerable.

The Magic Need Tangible Progress More Than Flimsy Positivity To Make Another Rebuild Tolerable

All is well in the world, and the Orlando Magic are on pace, according to Jamahl Mosley, the team’s perennially upbeat rookie coach. The baby-faced Magic are making nightly gains, players’ morale are high, the I-4 extension project has been fantastic for commuters, and the lineups at Disney World have never been shorter, according to his blue-colored visions. Everyone in Orlando’s sweet world is eating gumdrops, rainbows, and lollipops these days.

So, there’s that… While adopting a “better-days-are-(mercifully)-ahead” mindset may help the Magic cope with the odor of defeat, raw data does not portray a picture that is as positive as the one now presented. The Magic have the lowest record in the NBA at 7-34, haven’t won a game in three weeks, and are off to their worst 41-game start in team history.

They’re on a nine-game losing run coming into Wednesday’s game at Washington, which is the third time this season they’ve had a losing streak of at least seven games. Oh, and their only two home triumphs might have easily been losses had it not been for wild fourth-quarter comeback against two road-weary Western Conference opponents.

Following all of that fake happiness and phony optimism, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and General Manager John Hammond are close to finalizing contract extensions.

No, honestly, they’re poised to complete those deals as the club is going through one of its worst on-court stints in franchise history. In some respects, it’s akin to the captain of the Titanic getting accepted for a life insurance policy on April 15, 1912.

The Orlando Magic might be two years away from being two years away at this point.


Orlando-Magic-Jamahl-Mosley-1024x732 During the first half of the Orlando Magic’s game against the New York Knicks, head coach Jamahl Mosley speaks with center Mo Bamba. The Magic have the poorest record in the NBA and have already gone on three seven-game losing streaks. | Getty Images/Elsa

Magic supporters, who are still out there and understandably on the defensive, may have felt compelled to lash out at the organization for giving out money gifts while the house burns down. When it comes to NBA basketball, though, indifference reigns supreme in Central Florida these days.

With a large number of Magic supporters refusing to attend games — and who can blame them? — For visiting teams, Amway Center has become a home away from home. Former Magic star Evan Fournier claimed it seemed like he was playing at Madison Square Garden when he returned earlier this season because Knicks fans were clapping after every basket. As the home team was destroyed by two players called Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, Miami supporters filled the house and screamed, “Let’s Go Heat!” And who can forget last week’s scenario in which Philadelphia 76ers sensation Joel Embiid clasped his hands to his ears as raucous shouts of “M-V-P!” erupted around him? ‘M-V-P!’ echoed throughout the Magic’s, ahem, residence?

Last spring, Weltman and Hammond put the Magic back along this rebuilding route.

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Last spring, Magic management revamped the roster after losing Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz to significant knee injuries. Since Dwight Howard pushed his way out of Orlando in 2012, Nikola Vucevic has been dispatched to the Bulls to shine in Chicago. Fournier was moved to Boston for little to nothing and finally wound up with the Knicks, where he put up a brilliant effort last week after a string of inconsistent outings. Aaron Gordon, another long-time key player, was also moved to the Denver Nuggets, bringing in teenager R.J. Hampton and Gary Harris in the process.

Soon later, experienced coach Steve Clifford was fired, too, after his no-nonsense attitude and X-and-O knowledge helped the Magic break a seven-year playoff drought. Mosley was named as his successor, and his role now is to be the coaching equivalent of a sacrificial lamb while leading the NBA’s youngest opening-night starting lineup in history.

While the 2021 relaunch provided a clean slate for the Magic’s roster, it also dealt a blow to a fan base still reeling from the previous rebuild’s failure. (See: GM Rob Hennigan, the worst five-year span in team history, one failed trade, poor draft selection, and disastrous free-agent signing after another.)

The Magic made the proper decision in re-signing basketball legends Jeff Weltman and John Hammond, who have a track record of spotting talent and putting together winning lineups. They initiated the rebuilding process, and they should be the ones to finish it – no matter how many years (or tears) it takes.

Even as the defeats continue to mount up, head coach Jamahl Mosley preaches optimism. NiQ

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Opposing coaches have bragged about Mosley’s efforts in motivating the Magic’s youthful group to play hard and stay competitive on a regular basis. Of course, they generally say it after their respective teams have thrashed Orlando.

For the time being, the Magic are operating under the assumption that close losses are good losses. That’s because such near misses are preferable than getting bullied and blown out every night. Four of the team’s previous five losses have been by five points or less. For the time being, it will have to qualify as development, despite the fact that the Magic were never really a danger to win those tight games.

In a post-practice press conference, Mosley remarked of Orlando’s late-game strides, “Whether the shot goes in or not goes in, you focus on the process that the players have committed to.” “Then, when we’re talking about how close we are, that’s when people realize how close we are.”

That party line is remarkably similar to the one Jacque Vaughn employed as the Magic’s head coach from 2012 to 2015, when the team was forced to compete despite having a considerably inferior roster. Vaughn was fired and replaced by a rotating door of James Borrego, Scott Skiles, Frank Vogel, Clifford, and now Mosley after just a handful of those “close defeats” turned into victories.

Is the Magic making the same kind of strides that Mosley claims on a regular basis? Maybe, but probably not.

With the selection acquired in the Vucevic deal, they discovered Franz Wagner, a possible 10-year veteran, but No. 5 overall pick Jalen Suggs has done nothing after a slow start and a thumb injury. Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter Jr., two young components who have put up respectable statistics, are likely to be reserves on a playoff squad. Terrence Ross and Gary Harris are expected to follow in the footsteps of the other veterans who were relocated last spring. Fultz and Isaac might be close to returning, but they’ll have a tough time avoiding yet another missed season in their injury-plagued careers.

Progress? So there’s that. The decision-makers and coach have long-term contracts in place to see this cringeworthy reconstruction through.

When those reams of near defeats turn into triumphs, real progress will replace frivolous propaganda and weak optimism. When blips of tiny strides are no longer utilized to hide unattractive losing streaks, substantial advances will be seen. And when opposition fan groups no longer swarm the Amway Center with chanting for the visiting teams, the improvement will be believed once again.

Winning is still important in NBA basketball, and squandering 82-game seasons should be avoided at all costs. The Magic would be prudent to restrict the optimistic spins that just insult their surviving supporters’ brains until they can at least return to a degree of competitive dignity.

RELATED: Markelle Fultz, an Orlando Magic guard, is eager to play basketball again a year after tearing his ACL.

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