Founded in 1989, the Orlando Magic look like they should have a history dating back to at least the 70's. They've never won a title, at least not yet. But here's a quick list of great NBA players: Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis. That looks like a pretty good all-time team there, and they've all played for the Magic once or twice. Most of them have done a shitload of their damage for Orlando; Shaq, Hardaway, Howard, and McGrady even created themselves during their stints in Orlando. They've won five division titles, two Conference Championships, have the highest winning percentage of any of the 1988-1989 expansion teams, and have made the playoffs 14 of their 23 years on this planet.
The Magic entered the league with three other teams: The Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...mer_Heat_is_Brutal.html), and Charlotte Hornets (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...hese_Hornets_Sting.html). Originally the league wanted to expand by three teams, and put only one team in Florida. But when your city's future livelihood is riding on the line, you're going to morph into Super Salesman and pitch your ass off. After seeing impressive pitches from both Miami and Orlando, David Stern's heart grew a few sizes and he asked himself, hey, why not? Neither of these cities deserves to be deprived of a team! Stern's instinct proved to be dead-on. They procured a two-time champion which was a runner-up once and a two-time runner-up, so it was a major win for the NBA.
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper let readers submit entries for the team name, and of over 4000 original entrants, the list of names narrowed to the short list included all crap: The Tropics (ick), Heat (!), Juice (What! The! FUCK!), and Magic. Clearly the winner was decided right off the bat there. The team was the first major league sports team in Orlando, and they're still the only one there. Former Philadelphia 76ers (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...25-A_True_Original.html) general manager Pat Williams was hired to collect the actual team, while Matt Guokas was hired to coach. It's first-ever draft pick was Nick Anderson, the eleventh pick of the first round.
I don't have to mention the expansion growth pains, now do I? Suffice it to say their first three seasons in existence were all write-offs. They progressed between seasons one and two only to regress between the second and third seasons, which put them into the lottery and eventually won them the first pick. The big prize in the draft that year was the biggest draft prize since the New York Knicks (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...he_New_York_Groove.html) took the first-ever draft lottery prize, Patrick Ewing, in 1985. This year, the prize was big both literally and figuratively. From Louisiana State University came rumbling out The Diesel, Shaquille O'Neal! And he was every bit as good as the experts projected, leading the Magic to a sudden turnaround which saw them going 41-41 in only their fourth season. He was the first All-Star rookie starter since Michael Jordan and the Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, even though there are times when a 41-41 record is actually good enough for one of the lower playoff seeds, the Magic's record was tied with the Indiana Pacers (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use..._in_Middle_America.html) and the Pacers held the tiebreaker.
In 1993, the Magic then found Chris Webber in the draft. Joke's on them, right? Well, not really. The joke was more on the Golden State Warriors, who traded their number three pick, Penny Hardaway, and three future first-rounders for Webber. Who do you think got the better of that deal? Well, Golden State is all but forgotten despite being one of the older teams in the league. The Magic went to the Finals twice. The first time was in 1995, led by Shaq and Penny, and they managed to avoid becoming victims of Michael and the Jordanaires! Of course, that was only by merit of the fact that their opponents were the Houston Rockets, who swept the Magic in four games. After that, the Magic contended for a couple more years, but Shaq eventually left in free agency for the Los Angeles Lakers, Championship glory, and big-time superstardom as a rapper, actor, and video game producer. He would go on to show an incredible versatility of talents in all those mediums. Excuse me for a moment while I go give a bear hug to an actual bear.
Hardaway became the team leader, but was gone in 1999 when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. By now, the Magic were a bunch of players no one ever heard of, coached by a first-time coach. Somehow they made it to another 41-41 record. The coach, Doc Rivers, went on to greater success as coach of the Big Three Boston Celtics (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...-The_Big_Green_Men.html) while one of the players, Ben Wallace, became known for his persistent defense and later found a spot on a Champion Detroit Pistons team. The Magic dived into free agency, seeking one of three coveted players: Grant Hill, Tim Duncan, and Tracy McGrady. Duncan stayed with the San Antonio Spurs, with whom he had won a title. The other two went to Orlando. They did pick up another Rookie of the Year in Mike Miller and go to the playoffs, but were thrown out of the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks.
They followed up with several years of modestly good records, but never did any real damage until 2004, when they did absolutely no damage whatsoever. Their general manager was replaced, and the new guy dismantled the team, even getting rid of McGrady because he thought McGrady was slacking off. And with the number one pick in 2004, the Magic got Dwight Howard from the draft. In the 2005 season the Magic started fast but faltered during the playoff push because of injuries. But with Howard, they were dangerous, and Howard led the team on a series of 50-win seasons, culminating in their second-ever appearance in the Finals in 2009. They lost to the Lakers.
Since then, the Magic have still done well, but Dwight Howard wasn't happy. He demanded a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, rescinded the demand, demanded the coach be replaced, and the team struggled. Just this month, a four-team trade was completed which sent Howard to the Lakers, thus giving basketball's Other Yankees even more firepower. Howard was the team's all-time leading scorer, shot-blocker, and rebounder, which means the team is now rebuilding again.
Chuck Daly, who coached the Bad Boy Pistons on the 80's, coached the Magic from 1997 to 1999, and the team retired number six in honor of their sixth man, meaning their fans. Wonderful gestures. They've only had two Hall of Famers in Dominique Wilkins and Patrick Ewing, both of whom made their names with other teams. But in fairness to the Magic, that could be partially because the real name players for the team haven't been retired for all that long, if they're even retired now in the first place.
It seems like the Magic are always on the lookout for the best young talent. A whopping seven of their rookies have made the NBA's Rookie First Team, including Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, and Dwight Howard. Those are just the name players who were selected. Another four have made the NBA Rookie Second Team - Stanley Roberts, Michael Doleac, Chucky Atkins, and Jameer Nelson. From that alone, you can tell the Orlando Magic are the kind of team you pick up if you enjoy mentally preparing to hate your favorite players for the times they are inevitably signed by the Lakers.
Still though, they must be doing something right. After all, they've been very successful, and they're barely off the ground floor. I have a feeling they're going to win that title someday, when they figure out that it will probably help to keep their young talent instead of give it all to Los Angeles, where they'll have to face it again in the Finals.
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Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
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The Orlando Magic are a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and are currently coached by Stan Van Gundy. The franchise was founded in 1989 as an expansion franchise and has had such notable NBA stars as Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard throughout its young history. The franchise has also been in the playoffs for more than half of their existence (11 playoff appearances in 20 years).