INSIGHT: JU legend Otis Smith moves into general manager position with the Orlando Magic
Joel Lamp
Special to

Orlando Magic official announcement

May 10, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Otis Smith has been a legend at every level of the game of basketball. Now he faces possibly the toughest challenge in his career.

Recently named the general manager of the Orlando Magic, Smith now will finish the rebuilding project that he has helped oversee. But just getting back to the playoffs is not his goal - he wants to win a NBA title.

And that's has been the way Smith has operated since his youth.

You see, Otis Smith was a legend in the high school ranks in his native Jacksonville. He opted to stay in his hometown and he was the key to reversing the fortunes of JU basketball, leading the Dolphins to the NCAA Tournament in 1986.

After leaving JU, Smith jumped to the NBA, where he was a star for more than a decade. During his career, he left a mark on the Orlando Magic and began a love affair with the franchise.

That love affair paid off this year when Smith was elevated to general manager of the Magic after serving as assistant general manager.

For a guy who has experienced success at every level of the game, Smith's jump to the general manager job is a natural. His future success is a given when you look at his background.

All-state in high school, All-American in college, more than 10 years in the NBA - and more than his individual success is that he knows how to win.

He knows what it takes to make it to the NBA and what it takes to succeed in the NBA. His resume screamed that he was ready. He was prepared after spending the past two years as an assistant GM.

The Magic have seen his influence on its roster. Smith has been a mover-and-shaker for the franchise, accelerating the rebuilding process as the Magic made a late run at a playoff spot.

He drafted Jameer Nelson. He pulled the trigger on the trade of Steve Francis to the Knicks, which completed the makeover of the Magic.

With room to work under the salary cap heading into the offseason, the Magic look to be a major player in the Eastern Conference next season.

"It's a great opportunity for Otis," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "He has worked his way up the ladder and knows what it takes to compete and win in the NBA. It just shows you that if you work hard you can achieve things beyond your wildest dreams."

His playing career at Jacksonville was the stuff of legends, resulting in the retirement of his jersey, one of just six players to receive that honor.

He only scored 1,715 points in four seasons, averaging 14.4 points per game. An all-around player, Smith hit 47.7 percent of his shots during his career and averaged almost eight rebounds per game.

Since retiring, Smith has been working his way up the corporate ladder and has reached the summit.

And Orlando is going to reap the rewards for rewarding a man of Smith's caliber with his current position.

Joel Lamp is the editor of and can be reached via e-mail at