Magic GM critical of LeBron's move

Updated: July 9, 2010, 7:23 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A few welcoming shots at LeBron James is heating up the usually tame Sunshine State rivalry.

Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith said Friday he was surprised James went to Miami because he thought the two-time MVP was "more of a competitor."

He said the "great ones" do it on their own and "usually stay in one location."

Smith Somebody's going to end up with seven shots. Are they going to be OK with that? Somebody's got to be Robin. Are they OK with that? Those are the things they have to work out.

-- Magic general manager Otis Smith

It was rare public criticism from the usually coy Smith and perhaps a move to motivate his Magic. James had announced a day earlier that he was joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to form an All-Star trio.

Asked if James' move to Miami will cause a power shift in the NBA, Smith responded, "Is Kobe retiring?"

"He's proven he can do it on his own," Smith said of Lakers star Kobe Bryant, smiling over the comments. "Oops. My bad."

Smith also said the Magic "still hold the crown" as the best in the Southeast Division, having won three straight titles. He added the Heat will be tough to beat, but are not unguardable.

"Unless they got three balls, you still guard them the same," Smith said. "They'll figure it out I'm sure. Somebody's going to end up with seven shots. Are they going to be OK with that? Somebody's got to be Robin. Are they OK with that? Those are the things they have to work out."

James' decision abruptly ended Orlando's growing rivalry with Cleveland.

The Magic eliminated the Cavaliers two years ago in the Eastern Conference finals, derailing the Kobe-LeBron dream Finals. James didn't shake hands with Orlando players afterward and skipped his postgame news conference.

Orlando and Cleveland had the NBA's best records last season. Cleveland eventually lost in the second round to Boston, which had eliminated the Magic in the conference finals.

Smith thought LeBron would want to win a title in Cleveland by beating stars such as Wade, Bryant and Orlando's Dwight Howard on a team where he was the sole leader.

"I was surprised that he went" to Miami, Smith said. "I thought he was, I guess, more of a competitor."

"The great ones do and usually stay in one location," he added. "This is a new era. It's a little different than my time."

The Magic, who went to the NBA Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Conference finals last season, have reigned supreme in the Sunshine State the past few seasons. The Miami Dream Machine clearly has Orlando's attention now.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press