Orlando Magic Details
The NBA expanded into Florida for the 1989-90 season, when the Orlando Magic joined the league at the same time as their in-state Miami Heat. The Magic play at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. The “Magic” name is inspired by nearby Walt Disney World.
The Magic did not qualify for the playoff in their first four NBA seasons. In the 1992 draft, the Magic selected legendary center Shaquille O’Neal with the 1st overall pick. O’Neal won Rookie of the Year in his first season in Orlando, and he led the franchise to their first playoff berth—they were swept in the first round—in his second season. Shaq helped bring the young Magic all the way to the NBA finals in 1996, but they were swept by the Rockets and O’Neal departed for LA before the next season.
In 2009, the Magic returned to the NBA finals. This time, another former first overall pick, Dwight Howard, led the team to a Southeast Division title and the third seed in the Eastern Conference. In addition to his scoring ability, Howard is a strong defensive player and won the Defensive Player of the Year award that season. But the Magic lost to the Lakers in five games are still seeking their first title.
Dwight Howard forced the Magic into trading him before the 2012 season. Howard is the franchise’s all-time leader in points, and the Magic have struggled for wins without him. In order to rebuild their way back to the playoffs, they’ll rely on high draft picks like 5th overall Mario Hezonja, 6th overall Jonathan Issac, 8th overall Terrence Ross and 19th overall Evan Fournier. Coach Frank Vogel and new general manager John Hammond hope things can only improve from last season. The 2016-17 Magic finished last in the Southeast Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference.