HoopsHype.com Interviews

John Gabriel: "I never felt like I was on the hot seat"
by Mike Tuck / May 26, 2003

The Magic’s season ended very abruptly and unceremoniously in the process upsetting a lot of people. What do you tell people who say the season was a failure?

John Gabriel: We wanted to win. It was very painful the way things ended, being up 3-1 and then losing three straight. But the future looks very positive, and we will continue to grow as a team.

Much of the criticism has been directed at you. Is that fair?

JG: (Silence) It’s where it belongs.

Is that fair though?

JG: It’s part of the job. I just know we are headed in the right direction.

Did you ever feel like you were on the hot seat?

JG: No, not really. There is always pressure to win.

You pulled off a trade this season that looks pretty good right now. Two questions: How tough was it to trade Mike Miller?

JG: Trading Mike was extremely difficult. He was a great player for us and did everything we could have asked from him. You can’t replace a guy like Mike. But what we did was fill some needs that Mike couldn’t.

Okay, secondly, how pleased were you with the performances of Gooden and Giricek?

JG: I was very pleased. I am definitely encouraged by the way they played the short time they were here.
Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek will both be key pieces in the future of this franchise.

What are your plans for the draft?

JG: Well, there are a number of things we need to address. We will be looking at guards, adding depth, and a defensive presence in the frontcourt. Now obviously it is difficult to project who exactly will be on the board, so I will give you the standard answer, we will draft the best player available and hope that individual fits our greatest need.

Any plans to move up?

JG: We are currently considering potential trade partners, but that will all come more into focus the closer we get to the draft.

What are the Magic looking for in free agency this offseason?

JG: Well much like the draft, we will be looking for a point guard and a defensive minded frontcourt player. We will look at what players are available and then determine the ones that fit and then how and if we can bring them in here.

Will Darrell Armstrong be brought back?

JG: We’d love to have Darrell back. He has meant so much to this franchise and to this community. It would be difficult to see him go.

Has or will Grant Hill be asked to retire?

JG: No, we don’t know the status of Grant right now.

If Grant is brought back, when will he be available?

JG: His status is unknown; we will talk to the doctors and determine that down the road.

What would you tell a disgruntled Orlando Magic fan to make him not give up on this team and come back to support them next season?

JG: I would say that we are moving in the right direction. We have gotten better each of the last three years, and went from going four games into the playoffs to seven this year. We have to develop the young guys we got in here like Drew Gooden, Gordan Giricek, Steven Hunter, and Jeryl Sasser, and continue to build for the future.

Mike Tuck is a producer/on-air talent for 740 The Team in Orlando and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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