The Orlando Magic is a professional basketball franchise that is based in Orlando, Florida, and competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team currently plays at the Amway Centre.
The Magic joined the NBA, with three other teams including the Miami Heat, as part of the league’s 1989 expansion. Orlando businessman Jim Hewitt nursed the idea to bring an NBA basketball team to the city and, with support from the then Philadelphia 76ers GM Pat Willians, both these men put an investment group together and laid the foundations for what would later become the Orlando Magic franchise.
In their debut year and with their first-ever draft pick and franchise player in Nick Anderson, the Orlando Magic played their first-ever game – an exhibition match against the then-champions Detroit Pistons. The Magic went on to win the game and Anderson would go on to become the franchise’s leading scorer for the next decade.
The franchise had to endure a lot of misery in its early years, with perhaps its lowest point being the 1991/1992 season where the team only managed to finish the regular season with a 21-61 record. At one point in the season, the team racked up a 17-game losing streak.
Front Office and Current Roster
The Orlando Magic currently has a front office comprising Alex Martins as CEO, John Hammond as General Manager, Jeff Weltman as President, and Steve Clifford as Head Coach.
They currently have 17 players in their roster, which include Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Terrence Ross, Nik Vucevic, Michael Carter-Williams, and D.J. Augustin among others.
Perhaps the first draft pick that brought the Magic good fortune was in the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery. Following the franchise’s clinching of the first pick in that year’s draft, the Magic were able to bring home perhaps the most prized draft player since Michael Jordan: Shaquille O’neal. A player many consider today as the best big man ever to play basketball, O’neal dragged the entire team to a 41-41 record the next year, winning the title of the NBA’s most improved franchise. They only missed the playoffs that season because they were tied for the eighth seed with the Pacers, who themselves held the tiebreaker.
After drafting Penny Hardaway in 1993, the Orlando magic officially became contenders for a championship. They amassed a 50-32 record the next season and advanced to their first-ever playoffs appearance (where they were swept 3-0 by the Pacers). They would, however, end up getting knocked out in the playoff’s second round that year.
Aside from the aforementioned two, other star players such as Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, and JJ Redick have donned the Magic uniform and created some form of history with the franchise.
These days, the Magic have a roster full of younger players as part of the franchise’s plan to rebuild for the future. Players like Aaron Gordon (2014 draft) and Markelle Fultz (2017 draft) carry the team’s hopes and aspirations going forward.
Despite the team’s best efforts overall, the Orlando Magic have never won an NBA championship in their 31-year existence. In 2009, the Magic went to the NBA finals for the first time since 1995 – only to lose to Kobe Bryant’s Lakers in five games. On the way, the team beat the 76ers, Boston Celtics, and the Cavaliers (who were led at the time by LeBron James) in that order.
In total, the Magic have won 6 Division titles (in 1995, 1996, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2019) and 2 conference titles ( in 1995 and 2009).
Retired Jersey Numbers & Hall of Famers
The Orlando Magic as a franchise has seen a lot of players rise through its ranks over the years, earning Hall of Fame nods. They include Dominique Wilkins, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, and Grant Hill. The Magic have only ever retired one jersey number (6) in honor of their fans. It was unretired in 2001, however, and given to Patrick Ewing.