Transcript of Orlando Magic's news conference introducing Billy Donovan as coach
Donovan: "Thank you very much. First, I would like to thank Mr. (Magic owner Rich) DeVos, who is obviously not here. I would like to thank (Magic President and Chief Executive Officer) Bob, (Vander Weide) Otis and (Magic Chief Operating Officer) Alex Martins, who is not here as well. I am very, very excited about this opportunity and to be part of this Orlando Magic family. For me personally, it was difficult because my 11 years at Florida were 11 great years with some very, very fond memories. But I really looked at myself in a couple aspects. One, I think that the easy decision for me personally could have really been to stay at Florida and just try to continue to move on, or the next step could be to try to do something that would really challenge me as a person, as a coach and help me grow and help me get better. And I've always been intrigued by the NBA. I've been intrigued by the just 24 hours of basketball, and I believe I've said that publicly many times. But in the process for me to leave the University of Florida, it was going to take something that had to be very, very special in my opinion. And when I got a chance to find out about the ownership and leadership here and how close it is, when I had a chance to look at the team, its potential and what the opportunities could be in the free-agency market. Looking at Florida and how we tried to build it and everyone moving toward the same direction, the goal is obviously to win a championship. People can talk about winning championships, but really what you want to do when it really comes down to it is you want to give yourself a chance. There are no guarantees, and there is a lot of luck that plays into it and there is a lot of timing that plays into it. But I know that you can't win championships unless you have everybody on the same page and everybody is moving in the same direction at the same time and you are all sharing the same vision. And I really believe here in Orlando they have a chance to do that, with the young pieces that are here on this team and also the pieces that through free agency and through the draft that can potentially be added. It is an exciting time, and it was a time for me that I said, 'You know what -- I want to try to take on this challenge at this point in my life.' And obviously it is always unsettling when you make change because I go from something that I was very, very comfortable, something that I have great security at and something that was easy, to putting myself in the position where I am going to be challenged in so many different ways. But I am excited about that challenge, because I am going to be doing it with people that I have a great respect for. And, I feel that there are a lot of similarities with the leadership at Florida with (Athletic Director) Jeremy Foley as there is here at the professional level with Bob and Otis. I am realty excited about it."
Donovan: "Well, the first thing I want to say is that to me, right now and today is about the Orlando Magic. But the first thing I have to say is that Jeremy Foley is a very close and dear friend and I love him like a brother. And I think there will always be speculation about contract, and why did it take so long. There was a certain process that the University of Florida had to go through and I was totally fine with that. I trust Jeremy and there were no issues at all. My decision to come here had nothing to do with the University of Florida. I think if I would have left Florida for another college job, I think you could then say what was wrong, why did he leave for another college job? But I had an opportunity to leave for another college job. This is a totally different environment, different challenge, a different way of life and a different style all together. So for me, I have seen so many times coaches and athletic directors end relationships over having to be fired or somebody moving on. And for me it has never ended like that with Jeremy. We ended it as very, very close friends, and he has done everything to try to keep me at the University of Florida. It has nothing to do with the contract. This was a different phase for me and a different step for me. Jeremy and Dr. (Florida President Bernie) Machen to me couldn't have been any fairer. We were very, very close. But to be honest with you, I was very upfront with Jeremy when the season ended. I said I want to coach in college here at the University of Florida, and the only thing that would intrigue me that I would take a look at would be an NBA situation that I thought was special, and it would have to be a special situation in my mind. He knew that, so I don't think that when Jeremy and I spoke about this that he was all surprised. He knew. I think he was hoping that I would stay, but I have great affection and love for Florida and the opportunities it provided myself and my family."
ON THE TRANSITION FROM COLLEGE TO THE NBA:
Donovan: "I am going to say this -- one thing when I was at Florida I said this that it's not about me. It's not about me here at the Orlando Magic. It is about all of us, players, the organization, everybody, ownership moving together. Certainly it's going to be an adjustment, but I have got to coach to my personality and how I feel comfortable. A lot of the guys on the team right now, there is some prior relationship. I did recruit Dwight (Howard) and got a chance to know him in high school. I recruited Keyon Dooling. Trevor Ariza's dad played at the University of Florida, and he visited Florida. Arroyo, I know him a little bit. J.J. Redick was another guy I recruited. I think you can probably tell I got a lot of credit for recruiting, but I probably didn't deserve a whole lot because none of those guys wanted to come to Florida."
ON THE INITIAL OFFER FROM THE MAGIC:
Donovan: "Well, Otis called me last weekend. He just made a phone call and talked to me about my interest level. It was hard, because I was just getting ready to go to SEC meetings, and he wanted me to think about. We asked some questions, and we had chance to visit on the phone. He talked to me a little bit about the team, talked to me about ownership, talked to me about himself, talked about working together and talked about a vision. As things started to progress, Bob got involved, Otis continued to stay involved and Alex Martins was there as well. And we kind of talked through it. And for me, I had a lot of questions because, as I said earlier, the University of Florida is a great place, a place I love and a place that I was very, very happy at. So, there were a lot of things I felt like we needed to talk about all the way through and I wanted to really hear what their vision was for it. And I think that going through that process over a period of time, it got me to a point where I was excited and saw that this could be a tremendous opportunity for myself and my family to be a part of the Orlando Magic and what they are trying to build and accomplish here over the next couple years."
ON WHAT HIS FIRST STEP WILL BE:
Donovan: "The first thing for me is I have great respect for Brian Hill -- tremendous respect for him as a coach. Being in this state, I get a chance to watch a lot of Magic games on TV. I know that Brian and I don't have a close relationship, but I have admired him from afar and will try to continue to build on what he has built over the past several years. He knows this organization very, very well; he has had two stints here. But I think for me going forward, would be first to get acquainted with the players, to talk with them, to get some of their feel and feedback, get with Otis and Bob and talk about the upcoming draft and free agency and where the organization is at from that standpoint."
ON TRACK RECORD OF COLLEGE COACHES COMING TO THE NBA:
Donovan: "Well, for me it is not about me. I am a piece of the puzzle here. It is about the organization and about a chance for this team and this franchise to take the next step. There is no question that there has been an unbelievable track record of coaches that maybe have not done very well, and I haven't been in those situations and I don't really feel like it is fair for me to even comment on those things. I do know this; I have worked very, very closely with Rick Pitino, and Coach Pitino was extremely successful with the New York Knicks. But in terms of commenting on the other college coaches, I don't feel it would be fair to comment on them or the organizations. And to me, it is not about me, it is about all of us together as a team, one, trying to accomplish a goal. It was the same thing at Florida -- we were trying to accomplish a national championship, and it wasn't me, it was the administration, it was the assistant coaches, it was all the work the players put in, it was everybody was moving in the same direction. Certainly those questions are going to be out there, and it is a challenge I realize that is ahead of me that is a new challenge, and one that I have never coached an NBA game before. So you know what, I am going to try to get up to speed on a lot of things. But, I feel like I have great passion, I feel like I have a tremendous work ethic, I feel like I love the game and I know I am going to work very, very hard at that. And I am excited about that type of challenge."
ON THE CHALLENGE OF LEAVING HIS NEW RECRUITS:
Donovan: "Yesterday, for me, should have been a really happy, exciting day when I decided that I really wanted to do this and spoke with Bob and Otis on the phone. And very, very quickly it went to a day that you know I had a lot of compassion in my heart because there was a lot of difficult phone conversations, a lot of hard face-to face in person conversations. Starting with Jeremy, to the team, to the recruits that you spoke about. There are two great players here in Orlando, two terrific kids with great families, and it was hard to get on the phone and talk to them. But I have to say that both Chandler (Parsons) and Nicky (Calathes) handled themselves with such class and grace and probably made the conversation a lot easier for me than I was feeling going into the conversation. I trust Jeremy Foley with my life, and I know that he is going to bring in a great, great coach and all of those kids are going to be fine. And there is no question at a time when you make a transition and you are moving onto a next experience, a next opportunity, you just try to make as many phone calls as you can and show a level of compassion and concern for their needs and where they think, 'OK, where am I going now?' So it was hard, but I also know those guys were excited for me, and I will at least be maybe a little bit closer that I can continue our relationship being here in Orlando.
ON GIVING UP A DEAN SMITH/COACH K LEGACY AT FLORIDA:
Donovan: "I really thought about that, and that really entered in to the equation for me, just thinking about what can happen. And one thing that I realized was that yes, that can happen, but the other thing that could happen is it could just level itself out. I don't know what the future was going to hold. I felt like the future for me was how do I grow, as a coach, as a person, how do I get better? And I think the way you get better is taking on different challenges. Certainly I could have stayed at Florida it was the easy decision, believe it or not, it was a more comfortable decision with four children and our family being happy there, I knew the athletic director, we have obviously had tremendous success. I could have just stayed and waited, but I think it was the opportunity for me to grow and develop, and I think in this day and age, with so much of the publicity and so much attention on college and professional basketball, it is really hard to stay at a place for a long, long period of time. I am talking about 20, 25, 30 years. I look at what Coach Boeheim has done, or Lute Olson has done, or Dean Smith, Bobby Knight. I think that is remarkable what they have done, but also for me it came to did I want to try to continue to do that, or did I want to try to take on a different challenge and throw myself into a different situation, that to me maybe is at a different challenging level for me than I have had up until this point in time, but I am excited about that."
ON PROXIMITY TO GAINESVILLE AND THE WEAR OF RECRUITING BEING A FACTOR:
"There were a lot of factors that went into the decision, the most important factor was first and foremost my family. Would they be comfortable? And obviously it was an easy answer being 100 miles away from Gainesville. That was easy. I think the next factor for me was to try to get to know the organization, try to get to know the ownership, try to get to know Otis and what his vision was and ownership's vision was. After sitting down and talking with Bob and Otis, it became pretty clear to me, a lot like Jeremy did when he brought me here, about what he was trying to do. That was the other piece. The next piece was, OK, leadership is in place, what about the team? The players, free agency, the draft, where are you at? Cap room all of those things factored into it. So to me, there was a long, long list of things that I think I needed to be comfortable with, and that is why I think this situation for me was almost so ideal looking at all the factors, from the geographics, to management, to ownership, to the team, to the youthfulness of it, to the opportunity in free agency. There were so many things that made sense. Hopefully my faith continues to grow and develop, but sometimes this gets in front of you and you do a lot of praying and a lot of thinking about what is the best thing for you. I felt like there was a lot of really positive things that enabled me to sit here and say yes and bypass a great situation at the University of Florida. As it regards to recruiting and all of the other challenges, I still feel that I have great, great passion for recruiting, and I think that over a period of time you do something for a long, long time, probably after while it does get to a point where you want to change. It was never about that for me, at least I wasn't at that point where I thought , "This has got to end, I am not enjoying this, I am not having fun.' I wasn't at that point. Could I have gotten at that point? I didn't know how I was going to feel four or five years down the road. I am happy there now, but you don't know. The things in the daily routine of the college job hadn't gotten to the point of weighing on me that I didn't feel happy or comfortable doing it, but there was no question that this will be a different type of work and we've talked about it. It is all pretty much the basketball piece, which excites me, and it is not so much not liking recruiting as it is probably a little more loving the game."
ON HOW TOUGH THE DECISION TO LEAVE FLORIDA WAS: