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Based out of sunny Orlando, Florida, the NBA’s Orlando Magic have been dominating on the court out of the Southeast division of the Eastern Conference since 1989. While no championship banners hang from the rafters at the Amway Center, this franchise is always a threat to their opponents with their hard-working mentality.
After a successful pitch to put a pro basketball team in the small city of Orlando, the Magic took to the court for the first time in the fall of 1989. While their first few seasons were marked with few wins, their fortunes began to change in 1992 with the number one overall draft pick. Selecting Shaquille O’Neal out of Louisiana State University, an immediate impact was felt on the court. Winning the Rookie of the Year Award for the 1992-1993 season, Shaq and the Magic came within one game of a playoff berth. They tied for 8th place in the east, but lost out on a postseason berth over a tiebreaker held by the Pacers. In 1993-1994, the Magic’s improved record set the stage for their first ever playoff appearance, but they would head home without any wins, being swept by the Pacers.
The next season, however, Orlando would leave nothing on the table. Winning their division, the Magic breezed past the Boston Celtics in four games before taking on the Chicago Bulls, and eventually the Indiana Pacers. Beating them all, the Orlando Magic found themselves in the NBA Finals, matching up against the Houston Rockets. Gassed from the hard-fought first three rounds of the playoffs, and without much experience, Orlando relented to the Rockets in four games. They would make it back as far as the Eastern Conference Finals before being swept by a dominant Chicago team.
Shaq would leave Orlando for Los Angeles in free agency, setting back the team despite the efforts of Penny Hardaway. Orlando would not advance past the first round of the playoffs again until 2008. In 2009, the Magic were back in action again with Dwight Howard as the main attraction. Along with Hedo Turkoglu and JJ Redick, Howard would lead the team back to the NBA Finals. The championship, however, would continue to elude them as the Lakers took him the prize in five games. Orlando would be bounced from the postseason the next year by Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Orlando would make the playoffs the next two seasons (exiting both times in the first round) before parting ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy, and eventually parting with Dwight Howard after a tumultuous relationship. These changes would lead the franchise into disarray, missing the playoffs for the next six seasons.
The 2018-2019 season saw Orlando’s record finish above .500 for the first time since 2012. Winning their division, the Magic were back in the playoffs, drawing a tough match up against the Toronto Raptors. A learning experience for this group, Orlando was eliminated in five games. A starting roster made up of DJ Augustin, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic has head coach Steve Clifford excited for what another season of Magic basketball can bring. His hope is to push this team to the next level and a deeper playoff run next season.
Many great players have come through Orlando. Among the most loved by Magic Fans include Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway, Dwight Howard, Grant Hill, Nick Anderson, Horace Grant, Hedo Turkoglu, and Dennis Scott. Click here for additional information about the Orlando Magic.