As a lot of you know, I am a die-hard Orlando Magic fan. For those of you that don’t, now you know. Living as a Magic fan in Jacksonville has its drawbacks. I live with a Miami Heat fan, my best friends are Atlanta Hawks fans, and I have another friend that supports the Charlotte Hornets. My guess is that you probably don’t know a lot about the Magic team that I adore so greatly. I, myself did not know some of these facts. What about you?
-The city of Orlando was awarded a franchise in 1987 along with Miami (Heat), Charlotte (Hornets), and Minnesota (Timberwolves). The first regular season game was played on November 4th, 1989 against the New Jersey Nets. Though there were struggles in the first three seasons, the Magic were able to sell out all but one home game. Quite the feat for a new team.
-Where did the nickname “Magic” come from? Pat Williams, Orlando’s current Senior Vice President and former General Manager brought his 7 year old daughter to the city and thought that “Magic” just seemed fitting. Other name proposals included Challengers – a very grim reminder of the Challenger shuttle that crashed in 1986 – Floridians, Juice, Orbits, Astronauts, Aquamen (eye roll), and Sentinels. I think we hit the nail on the head with Magic.
-We are the only team in the NBA that does not have a single former player’s number retired. The only retired jersey number is 6 in honor of the sixth man, a reference to the fans. Do we dare retire Dwight Howard’s number 12? Hmmm…
-We had two Detroit Piston All-Stars on our team at the same time and let both of them go! That’s right, in 2000 we had Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups on our roster. Wallace, an undersized center that was known for his ferocious rim protecting skills, started in all 81 games he appeared in from 1999 to 2000. He was traded to Detroit for Grant Hill (that’s a different story). As for Billups, he never played a game in a Magic uniform due to a shoulder injury. He was only on the team for a couple months but was still included in the season ending team photograph. Both players went on to become NBA champions in 2004 with the Pistons.
-The Magic have had quite a few former players and coaches move on to larger roles in the league. Current head coaches Tyronn Lue and Steve Kerr both played in the blue and white pinstripes. Former coaches Monty Williams and Scott Skiles did as well. Doc Rivers went on to win a few rings up in Boston after he left Orlando. My favorite former coach Stan Van Gundy coaches the Detroit Pistons now after being canned. Other names you might know are Steve Clifford and Randy Wittman; both former assistant coaches for our ball club.
I may have gotten a bit carried away but I do hope you all know a little bit more about the young franchise located two hours south of Jacksonville. As the Magic work to make a splash in free agency, I will keep you updated on anything I deem important or news-worthy. If you have any fun facts of your own please share them with me!