ORLANDO, Fla. -- Give a roaring, raucous Orlando Sentinel welcome to Sgt. Stanley's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Sit back and let the column flow.
We hope you will enjoy the show.
Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing better in the journalism profession than going to an Orlando Magic practice, waiting for a lull in Stan Van Gundy's media session and then throwing out a question you know will rankle him.
I entered this state of sportswriting nirvana earlier this week when I saw the clip of LeBron James referring to his new team -- the Miami Heat -- as the "Heatles" ... presumably because of their rock-star persona and ability to fill arenas as the iconic Beatles once did.
I immediately went running to Sgt. Stan with this all-important pop culture development.
"They're pretty impressed with themselves," Van Gundy said in that snarky tone of his when asked about LeBron comparing the Heat to the greatest rock and roll band of all-time.
Sgt. Stan then went on for a couple of minutes, making sure to point out that the Magic sell out their arena no matter who they play and they don't need any frickety-frackin' Heat to put fannies in seats at the Am. "We don't need to bring them in to get people in our arena," he said. "Our crowd turns out to see us. They (the Heatles) are not raising our attendance."
Whenever Van Gundy talks about the Heat and the runaway egos in South Florida, you can almost see the disdain dripping from his words.
You heard Van Gundy's disgust during the self-absorbed Summer of LeBron when James orchestrated "The Decision"" a made-for-TV ESPN special where The Crown Prince of Me announced he would be "taking my talents to South Beach."
You heard Van Gundy refer to Chris Bosh as Dwyane Wade's "lapdog" -- a comment so over-the-top that Van Gundy even felt the need to apologize for it.
And then, of course, there was the verbal sparring match with his former boss, Heat President Pat Riley, during the offseason when the two men blasted each other through the media. "You have a different opinion than Pat, then apparently it's stupid," Van Gundy railed via his team's own web site.
And now comes LeBron comparing his team to the late, great Beatles. The feeling among the Magic and many other NBA teams is that there is something unholy about the confluence of circumstances that brought three of the NBA's biggest stars together in South Florida. Considering the way LeBron and Bosh manipulated the system to join D-Wade, shouldn't they be named after another famous musical group -- Earth, Wind and Conspire? Or, with the way LeBron so unceremoniously abandoned his hometown of Cleveland, maybe he should join Bob Marley and the Bailers.
But if LeBron really wants to compare his new team to the Beatles, shouldn't he be rewriting the lyrics to one of Fab Four's greatest hits -- "Yesterday (all my loyalty left and went away)"? Then there's the Heatles' No. 1 hit of all-time the song LeBron wrote for D-Wade "I Want to Hold Your Hand (you know, the one with the championship ring on it.)"
While the Heatles, who have won 19 of 20 games, keep cranking out the hits, Van Gundy is like the revival-tent preachers of the 1960s. He wants to burn every Heatles album he can get his hands on. It's become quite clear Van Gundy feels the Heatles are doing the devil's work and he just can't, ahem, "Let It Be."
Van Gundy has never been shy about protecting his team from real or perceived slights and this is no different. He has, in the past, railed against the national media for not putting Dwight Howard in the same stratosphere as the league's other superstars and for not giving Orlando the same amount of recognition as some of league's other elite franchises.
The Magic have always had a bit of an inferiority complex, but now it has intensified with the Heatles upstaging them in their own division, invading the State of Florida and turning ESPN into the Ed Sullivan Show.
Let's face it, if the Heat are the Beatles, the Magic must feel like another legendary British band singing their biggest hit:
"Who Are You?"