Donovan ready for the challenge of the NBA
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) – Billy Donovan was introduced as the newest head
coach of the Orlando Magic on Friday.
The Magic named Donovan head coach on Thursday, swaying the long-time college
coach from the University of Florida with a reported five-year contract worth
In Gainesville, he compiled a 261-103 mark over 11 seasons, leading the Gators
to the national championship the last two years and a championship game
appearance in 2000.
Earlier this offseason, he turned down a lucrative offer to become the head
coach at the University of Kentucky, but apparently the opportunity in the NBA
was too much for him to pass up.
“The easy decision would have been for me to stay at Florida,” said Donovan.
“Or I could take the next step and do something that would really challenge me
as a person, as a coach, and help me grow, help me get better. I’ve always
been intrigued by the NBA and the 24 hours of basketball.”
He added that the past failures of college coaches in the NBA, including his
mentor Rick Pitino, didn’t weigh into his decision. However, Donovan did lose
his top seven scorers from the 2007 national championship team and an expected
contract extension from the school was slow in developing.
“This decision had nothing to do with the University of Florida,” he said.
Donovan said he first spoke on the phone last weekend when Magic general
manager Otis Smith was gauging his interest in the job. Donovan later met with
ownership and became sold on the direction that the team is moving.
“I really believe, here in Orlando, they have a chance to [win a
championship],” said Donovan, who added he has relationships with most of the
current players, including All-Star center Dwight Howard, a player he tried to
recruit to Florida.
In 13 years of collegiate coaching, which included two years at Marshall
before joining the Gators, Donovan compiled a 296-123 record.
In Orlando, he replaces Brian Hill, who was fired on May 23 after two
consecutive losing seasons and a sweep at the hands of the Detroit Pistons in
the first round of the playoffs this season.