It may have been planned. It may be just coincidence.
But former Florida coach Billy Donovan will make an early return to the Sunshine State as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The NBA released its 2015-16 schedule on Wednesday, and Donovan’s Thunder will play at the Orlando Magic on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Amway Center. Yes, it’s just the Thunder’s second NBA game of the season. And yes, it’s the night before the Florida-Georgia football game in Jacksonville.
Of course, the Thunder-Magic game takes on another significant storyline for Donovan and Florida fans. Donovan left the Gators for six days in 2007 after signing to coach the Magic, only to have a change of heart and return to Florida. Donovan stayed at UF for eight more seasons, leading the Gators to three Elite Eight appearances and one Final Four before leaving college coaching for good last May.
Donovan will return to the state a second time as an NBA coach on Dec. 3, when the Thunder play at the Miami Heat in a 7 p.m. tip at American Airlines Arena.