Orlando Magic Daily Podcast Episode 88: Building Culture, Lessons Learned From The Tampa Bay Lightning

When the Orlando Magic introduced Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations, Weltman specifically pushed aside the term culture when asked about how he would rebuild the team. He said it was an indefinable word and merely a buzzword.

It was something the previous regime talked about a lot. But they certainly never built it either. It was an amorphous thing.

Weltman seemed to want to strike a new direction. Or at least publicly say the team was going to focus its team-building attention on something else.

Still, culture is amorphous enough that it does describe something that is at the very heart of building a franchise and a team. It is a way and a standard of doing things that everyone within the organization buys into. Orlando has spent six years trying to recreate whatever it had during the mid-2000s run after the Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy relationship expired.

The Magic are starting seemingly from square one to do this. They know they have a long way to go to get back to Playoff contention. And a lot of roster building to do.

There is no one way to build a team. Plenty of teams hope for Lottery luck, but only precious few get the ping pong balls to drop their way. And even fewer get it multiple times.

Each team has to forge its own path. But the common thread through most successful franchises — even successful sports organizations — is this idea of culture. Every player and person on the team pulls in the same direction. And that direction and that ideal lasts beyond each season and the shuffle of players.

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Consistency is built through consistent expectations and messaging. Something the Magic have been short on with their constant revolving door of coaches.

The Orlando Magic hired Steve Clifford, a noted culture builder with the Charlotte Hornets, as their new head coach. Whether that works out or he is able to do what four other coaches before him in the last six years could not remains to be seen.

There are models around the sports world on how to build a successful organization. None may be closer than what the Tampa Bay Lightning have built.

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Orlando Magic Daily Podcast Episode 88: Building culture, lessons learned from the Tampa Bay Lightning