When it comes to sports in the Central Florida area one name sticks out above the rest; the Orlando Magic. When game nights come around the streets of Orlando are lit up and packed with fans from every corner of the state. This great team has a unique and rich history that sets it aside from the rest. In 1989 it was one of four teams to join the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the NBA to expand the franchise. Out of the four teams to join the league the Orlando Magic has been the most successful, surprising opponents with unexpected victories as the underdog of the league. Throughout its young history the Orlando Magic has been home to stars of the NBA such as Vince Carter, Steve Francis, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, and Penny Hardaway.
As stated above the team entered the league as an expansion with four other teams, these three other teams were the Charlotte Hornets, the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The league originally only intended to open the expansion to three teams, granting only one franchise to Florida. However when the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic both presented persuading pitches the teams were invited to join. Surprisingly enough the team name was chosen by the public and after four names were presented to the boar, the Orlando Heat, the Orlando Tropics, the Orlando Juice and of course the Orlando Magic the name was chosen. The first coach to lead the Orlando Magic was Matt Guokas who was presented to the team after helping choose the first twelve players from the NBA Expansion Draft in 1989. During the first season the team saw an astonishing forty sell outs at the Orlando Arena out of the forty one home games, proving the success of the team’s participation in the league. During the first season the team won the Most Improved Franchise award, a much earned achievement.
In 1992 the Orlando Magic won the first pick for the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery. This lucky circumstance led to the team’s selection of Shaquille O’Neal the seven foot one inch player from LSU. His participation in the team led the Magic to a 41-41 season record, an improvement of twenty games since the previous season. This once again led the Magic to winning the Most Improved Franchise Award. In 1993 by another lucky stroke of the lottery the Magic won first pick again for the NBA Draft. With the new coach Brian Hill stepping up to the plate the team selected Chris Webber who was traded for Anfernee Hardaway. The ensuing season was nick named the “Shaq and Penny Duo” as the team collected its first 50-32 record in the franchises history. By the end of the season the team had ranked the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, however the Pacers team stole the Magic’s season when the underdogs beat the Orlando Magic 3-0 in the first round.
As the 1996 season rolled into view the unfortunate loss of O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers laid a crushing blow on the franchise. During the middle of the season the team strongly urged management to remove Brian Hill from the coaching position, and Richie Abubato took the seat as the interim coach. The season ended with a 45-37 record, surprisingly well for the teams circumstances. After hiring Chuck Daly for the 1997-98 the intro to the season appeared to be brighter. But the season was hectic after the injury that put Hardaway on the bench for most of the season. The season came to a respectable 41-41 end, starting an unfortunate drop in the Magic’s previous success. Fortunately with introduction to of John Gabriel to the team Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill were introduced to the team. Unfortunately Hill only participated in four games after an ankle injury at the start of the season. However, Tracy McGrady became a south eastern all star leading the team to a 43-39 record. The season was a huge success and even included a nine game winning streak.
The current Orlando Magic now features players such as Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, and Nikola Vucevic. The current coach for the Orlando Magic is Jacque Vaughn. You can see these great players fend off against opponents at their new stadium the Amway Center. The recent move from the Amway Arena to the Amway Center in 2010 has been a huge success for the team. This new stadium offers seating to over 20,000 screaming fans; its square footage is 875,000, a huge improvement from the Amway Arena’s 367,000. The Amway Center has put great effort into making the majority of the arena feel like luxury seating. In fact if you purchase specific tickets you access to the lounges on the bottom of the arena. These great lounges such as the Mercedes Lounge offer you free food throughout the game. The lounges have different qualities, but you will find that all of them offer gourmet foods and drinks! Before the game starts you can enjoy a full meal, during half time you can devour the desserts provided, and best of all its all you can eat!
Going to a game is more than just watching the sport being played; it is all about the entertainment, the players, the fans, the comradery, the food and of course the game! Amway Center has it all, and with the Orlando Magic on the court you can rest assured the game will be energetic, fun and filled with excitement! So when your in town be sure to steal a night and head down to see the Orlando Magic play, we can assure you that you will have a good time!
May 1, 2013