Here’s my take on new Magic head coach Steve Clifford: He is both a nice guy and no-nonsense. He is smart and straightforward. Humble and honest. He just may be that person to turn around the Magic’s recent fortunes. That’s what he was hired to do on May 30.
At his introductory press conference in the spring, I asked Clifford how’d he assess the roster he was getting. He told me it was unfair to make any judgments at the time but to check back with him in five to six weeks. So I did Monday in an extended one-on-one interview.
After meeting or connecting personally with every player, watching tape of nearly every game from last season, and working with the young guys at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, he told me this week he believes the Magic can be markedly more successful beginning this season. He says he won’t put a limit on this team. The Magic won only 25 games last year, their sixth straight season of losing basketball, so perhaps Clifford is an idealist, too. But he’s going to attack this project with a simple mantra: work hard, play smart, balanced basketball, have faith in the talent on the roster.
Watch part of the interview with Clifford at the top of this story and below. Watch much more of my sit-down interview with the Magic head coach on “After The Whistle” this Saturday at 11:35 p.m. on News 6.