Reports came out that the Orlando Magic relieved Jacque Vaughn of all coaching duties on Thursday afternoon. After losing to the San Antonio Spurs, 110-103 on Wednesday night, the Magic have lost 10 games in a row, all while surrendering more than 100-plus points in each contest.
Vaughn was hired on July 27, 2012 to help transition the franchise from the previous Stan Van Gundy era that essentially ended with the Dwight Howard situation commonly called the Dwightmare. Many around the league applauded Vaughn for the way he was able to establish a culture in Orlando, one where the players worked hard, played hard, and played for each other. He was also applauded for the way he developed players, from Nikola Vucevic, who was an unknown center turned double-double machine, to Arron Afflalo, who became a top Eastern Conference shooting guard in his second season with the Magic.
The plan for the Magic was to originally tank in Jacque Vaughn’s first two seasons of his coaching career. In his first year, the Magic went 20-62, which resulted in Victor Oladipo being taken with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. In his second season, the Magic made a slight improvement, going 23-59, which landed them Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton with the fourth and 10th overall picks, respectably, in the 2014 NBA Draft.
This third year was supposed to be the year the Magic began to turn the corner. After starting 4-7, it seemed that the Magic were on pace to finally take that step into respectability. They were beating teams they were supposed to beat, and giving elite teams a run for their money. Fast forward to February 5th, the Magic are exactly where they were last season at 15-37. The team hasn’t looked improved at all, players didn’t seem to give 100 percent effort, the fans were booing them at Amway Center, and ultimately Jacque Vaughn just couldn’t find an answer.
After a week of speculation about his job security, Vaughn was finally let go with a career coaching record of 58-158. Vaughn was a great person, a high character person who never got too high or too low. He stayed the course and continued to try and find answers for the Magic through all of the losses the team would take. However, you could see that the team needed to re-route and head in a different and better direction.
So to Jacque Vaughn, wherever you may go, thank you for creating the kind of culture that would make fans proud to cheer for the Magic. Thank you for grooming the young players on the team to not only strive to be champions on the court, but champions off the court as well. Best wishes to wherever your career path takes you.
We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.
– Maya Angelou