30 Days NBA Rewind : Orlando Magic

With the NBA Hiatus, there are no more games to eat. This is no reason to stop talking about our favorite sport, however. We Sport takes advantage of the break during this 2019 season to look back on the history, the players and the moments that made the glory of each of the thirty NBA franchises. Today, head to Florida and the Orlando-based franchise, the Magic.

A young franchise

The Orlando Magic is a rather young franchise, since it was created in 1989. It also becomes the same year the first NBA franchise to have a positive bile after 14 days (7 wins, 7 losses). The rest will be much worse for the Florida franchise, ending the season with 18 wins and 64 losses. However, Orlando is finally placed on a map, and the Magic’s playstyle made a good impression. Scott Skiles has a full season, allowing his team to finish 5th best team in terms of points scored (and the worst defense, unfortunately).

The following year, Skiles remained within his standards, approaching 17.1 points and 8.2 assists per game, allowing him to win the title of MIP (Most Improved Player). Orlando improves his overall record, climbing to 31 wins. The following season is completely missed, with only 21 victories and a last place in the Atlantic Division. However, this season takes a whole different turn when this sinister place becomes the first choice of the 1992 Draft.

Shaquille O’Neal, a UFO lands in Florida

The 1992 Draft becomes Orlando’s greatest achievement. In first position, the Magic Front Office selects Shaquille O’Neal, charismatic and oversized pivot. The same year, the franchise takes on a whole new dimension. It finished for the first time in its history in positive (41 victories), missing only very little the playoffs. o’Neal becomes the first cookie since His Airness Michael Jordan to be selected for the All-Star Game, and is logically named Rookie of the Year.

But the Magic won’t have been lucky just once, but twice in a row. With only a 1 in 66 chance of getting the first round of drafting, the Magic does. They select Chris Webber (who was of great interest to the Warriors), and send him straight to Oakland, against Penny Hardaway and draft rounds. Nice move from the Front Office, which recovers the player they coveted in addition to assets. The team then approached the 1993-1994 season in an even more serene manner, and for the first time won a place in the playoffs. Swept in the first round by Indiana, disappointment is in order.

The following year, the Magic hit even harder, and for the first time in its history (and after only 6 years of existence) reached the NBA Finals. The gang at Shaq had previously adequately beaten Boston, Chicago and Indiana. But the last step was too high, and the Magic bowed sharply to the Rockets of Olajuwon (4-0). The following year the Magic is atomized by LE Chicago of Jordan, who had recorded the famous 72-10, in the finals of the Eastern Conference.

After Shaq

Shaquille O’Neal therefore played his last game with the Magic against Chicago, before flying to the Lakers, who then offered the pivot the biggest contract ever offered in the NBA. For 4 years, the Magic will struggle, against a backdrop of bad recruitment, injury, or bad luck. They often miss the playoffs by a narrow margin. However, the team still has Penny Hardaway in its ranks, but also a certain Darrell Armstrong. The American leader, known to be very rough in defense, became the first player to glean the 6th man and MIP trophy in 1999. For 4 years, the Magic could not do better than two first rounds of the playoffs.

The Tracy McGrady era

In the summer of 2000, and after having well degreased, the Magic manages to enlist Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill. If the former manages to lead the Magic to the top, the latter becomes a total flop. Consistently injured, the Duke-trained winger plays very few games with Orlando. Traded for Ben Wallace, the Magic can bite its fingers, as Wallace will become imposing in the NBA, and a potential All-Star (4 titles of DPOY). On the Florida side, the franchise obtains its 12th consecutive positive record in 2003, but still cannot materialize in the playoffs.

Mike Miller, elected ROY in 2001 with Orlando, goes to Memphis. The following season, the franchise celebrates its 15th anniversary in the League. This season then becomes one of the worst in the history of the franchise which records only 21 victories during the regular season. Grand Hill is still injured, and therefore brings no satisfaction to the team.

The Advent of Dwight Howard

In 2004 the team obtained for the third time in its history the first round of Draft. The Front Office then selects Dwight Howard, who will become over the years one of the most imposing pivots in the league. In the 2007-2008 NBA season the franchise exploded, and placed third in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately Orlando was eliminated in the second round by Detroit with a score of 4-1 for the Pistons. With the progression of Dwight Howard, supporters see him as Shaquille O’Neal’s successor.

This team sends dreams and during the 2008-2009 season obtained a magnificent record of 59 victories for only 23 defeats, becoming for the first time the best franchise in the East. The Orlando franchise then made a very good run in the playoffs, but only had to lose against the Lakers of Bryant and O’Neal. They had previously beaten the Sixers, Celtics, and LeBron James Cavaliers. The year after the Magic also had a very good season, only being stopped in Conference weakness by Boston, after two sweeps by the Bobcats and Hawks.

Reconstruction, a perpetual pattern

After these two rich years of performance in Florida, Orlando will gradually lose speed compared to its competitors. Until today, the franchise will never again know the last four of the NBA. Dwight Howard left for the Lakers, the Magic must rebuild itself, by intelligently selecting its players. The Magic will also recover a certain Nikola Vucevic, in the 3-player trade including Howard.

Many players will then parade in the Orlando jersey, before the franchise finds a real balance, with a turn in the playoffs in 2019. Tobias Harris, JJ Redick, Victor Oladipo, are notably players who have passed through Florida. In 2014, the team selected in 4th place in the Draft Aaron Gordon, who will become one of the centerpieces of the team today. Evan Fournier is recovered in an exchange during this same Draft. On June 23, 2017, the team selected Jonathan Isaac in 6th position, while Mo Bamba was selected in this same place a year later. During all these years, Orlando will not find the way to the playoffs, while Vucevic becomes one of the most respected interiors in the League.

  • Conference Champion (2): 1995 and 2009
  • Champion of the Atlantic Division (2) 1995 and 1996.
  • Champion of the Southeast Division (4): 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2019.

Scott Skiles, Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee « Penny » Hardaway, Darrell Armstrong, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon.

  • Number 6, in tribute to the fans.

See you tomorrow for a new focus on one of the 30 franchises that are part of the NBA landscape, the Philadelphia Sixers!

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