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1985-1986: Founding

Founded through the collective efforts of businessman Jim L. Hewitt and Pat Williams, the Orlando Magic’s first coach was Matt Guokas, who helped build the team by selecting 12 players in the NBA Expansion Draft in June 1989. And hence, the team was all set to play its first game.

About Orlando Magic

1989-1992: Starting Out

The first game played by the Orlando Magic was in October, 1989, against the Detroit Pistons, the reigning champions at the time. This was an exhibition game that the Orlando Magic ended up winning. The team played its first season game at the O-Rena against the New Jersey Nets, who won. But it wasn’t long before that the Magic got its first victory of the season, against the New York Knicks, defeating them 118-110. Keeping the good start rolling, the team managed another victory over the Denver Nuggets and Scott Skiles was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. In 1991, the ownership of the franchise shifted to the DeVos family, who purchased it for $85 million, with Richard DeVos becoming the official new owner. The first season (1991-92) after this change was a bit disappointing for Magic supporters as numerous players were not able to play in important games due to injuries. Nick Anderson missed 22 games while Dennis Scott played only 18 games throughout the season.  Thanks to this, the team had a devastating 17-game losing streak.

1992-1996: Shaquille O’Neal

In May of 1992, the Magic had a huge stroke of luck as it got the first pick in the NBA Draft Lottery and ended up selecting Shaquille O’Neal. The 7’1” tall center helped the team pick up its poor performance and head on to better times, making the Magic NBA’s most improved franchise. However, O’Neal’s presence in itself was not enough to take the team to the 1993 NBA Playoffs. Soon, things changed at the management level as the head coach, Guokas stepped down and Brian Hill took his place. After a Draft selection and subsequent trade, the Magic ended up with a powerful duo of Hardaway and O’Neal. Together, these two helped the Orlando Magic become one of the dominant teams in the NBA. And as was expected, the Magic were in the playoffs. The glory did not last long though as the Pacers ended the Magic’s season in the first round. In their sixth season, 1994-95, forward Horace Grant was acquired from the Chicago Bulls as a free agent. The Magic worked this time as a team and won the Atlantic Division title, and compiled a 57-25 record. This made the Orlando Magic the second-fastest team to make it to the NBA Finals in the history of the league. Continuing with their good form, the Magic defeated the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs to reach the NBA Finals, where they were eventually defeated by Houston Rockets. The next season, 1995-96, was also a good one for the Magic. The team was near the top once again with a 60-22 record, led by the same powerful duo of O’Neal and Hardaway. The Magic were well on their way to winning after defeating such strong teams as the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. In the finals, they met the top seeded team, the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately for the Orlando Magic, Rodman and Pippen’s duo was too strong to overcome.

1996 – 1999: Hardaway Times

The O’Neal-Hardaway duo was finally separated as O’Neal went to the Los Angeles Lakers in the off season as a free agent. This was a huge blow to the Magic franchise as they were greatly dependent on his talent. Things at the back end weren’t smooth either, as player discontent caused the coach, Brian Hill to get fired and be replaced by Richie Adubato. Adubato was an interim coach and was eventually replaced by the permanent head coach, Chuck Daly. Even though Hardaway was giving his best performances, the team was facing consistent losses. Soon came along Julius Erving, finally giving the team some hope of a successful season. But as fate would have it, the season got seriously affected when Hardaway sat out majority of the games due to injuries. The team could not make it to the playoffs in this season. The next season was a breath of fresh air for the struggling team. With new names, such as Michael Doleac and Matt Harpring on the roster and Hardaway back in good shape, the Orlando Magic tied with Miami Heat 33-17. Also in this season, the team changed its uniform design for the first time since its formation.

1999-2000: Heart and Hustle

The year 1999 started off with the Magic hiring Doc Rivers as the head coach. Fresh blood was pumped into the lineup as Danny Manning and Pat Garrity were traded, along with two future picks, for the Magic’s last remaining superstar player, Hardaway. Even though the Magic was a team full of no big names at this point in time, they missed playoffs by a very thin margin, getting the team a very apt slogan ‘Heart and Hustle’ – a reference to the amount of hard work the players put in to achieve success, even without star players.

2000-2004: Tracy McGrady

In the offseason, the team focused on getting hold of some of the NBA’s most prestigious and sought after free agents. These included Tim Duncan, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady. Even though Duncan chose to stay with his team, the San Antonio Spurs, the other two joined Magic. Hill was forced to sit out most games and was only able to play 4, thanks to an injury. However, McGrady was the big superstar to look out for this season. He ended up becoming one of NBA’s top scorers. Added to the mix was Mike Miller, and the Orlando Magic went on a stellar nine-game winning streak, making it to the playoffs. Miller ended up becoming the Rookie of the Year. The victories were short-lived as the team lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. In the 2001-02 season McGrady proved to be a good pick, yet again. He led his team to a winning record of 44-38, while still being severely affected by his ankle injury. The core team for the Orlando Magic now consisted of McGrady, Miller, Armstrong and Garrity. Even with such a strong core, the Magic were defeated by the Charlotte Hornets 3-1, in the first round of the playoffs. In the 2002-2003 season, Miller was traded for two new players and McGrady continued to get good results for the Magic. Even though Hill was affected by injuries in this season, the Magic still managed to make it to the playoffs for the third consecutive time but could not last long as they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the game now famously known as the heartbreaker. The next season was one of the team’s worst performances since its founding. Even with new acquisitions, they ended up losing 19 games straight causing management to fire Doc Rivers as the coach and replace the general manager with John Weisbrod.

2004-2012: Dwight Howard

This was the season when McGrady parted ways with the Magic. He was traded to the Houston Rockets for three new players. Weisbrod shook up the entire roster as soon as he took charge. After getting the number one draft pick, the Magic chose high-school famed kid, and the future star, Dwight Howard. However, after a promising start, the team again began to slack off. Weisbrod made some further changes in the lineup and fired the coach, promoting Chris Jent to the position of interim head coach. Even though overall team performance was average, Dwight was proving to be a good pick. The Magic finished the season at 36-46. At the management end, things took an abrupt turn as Weisbrod resigned. Soon it was announced that Brian Hill would be returning as head coach for the team.  The 2005-2006 season started positive but despite many efforts, the team was not able to make it to the playoffs.

2006-2010: A bit of the same

The next season started strong for the team as well, with a 13-4 record, but the team soon suffered in the standings because of several injured players. Even though the overall team performance was poor, Dwight continued with a good form. Things took a positive turn for the team as with an 88-86 victory against the Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic eventually made it to the NBA playoffs, first time since 2003. The playoff run did not last very long as they got knocked out in the first round by the Detroit Pistons. Brian Hill was fired as head coach again. With Billy Donovan as head coach, Rashard Lewis was signed on. The 2007-08 season started with impressive performances by the Orlando Magic in the first 20 games. But the good times did not last long as the next few months turned out to be tough for the team, with 18 wins and 18 losses. But the season ended well at 52-30 and they won the Southeast Division title. The next season, 2008-09, was all good till the first half, after which one of their star players, Jameer Nelson, suffered a serious shoulder injury and was out for the rest of the season. The team finished the season at 59-23.

In the offseason, the team signed on a bunch of new players, including Matt Barnes from the Phoenix Suns and Jason Williams from Miami Heat. For the first ten games of the next season, 2009-10, the team played without Rashard Lewis. This was not the only major injury that members of the team suffered. Despite tough times, they still managed to finish the year at 23-8. The next year started rough, with the Magic losing seven out of the first ten games. However, they managed to pick things up and finished the season with a 59-23 record.

2010-2012: Dwightmare

In the 2012 season, Dwight, the team’s star player requested to be traded. The club overlooked this request and made other trades it wanted to. Following this, there was a lot of uncertainty regarding Dwight’s future at the club. After much deliberation, in August 2012, it was announced that Dwight would be sent to the Los Angeles Lakers.

2012 – Present

After Dwight left, the team started rebuilding and restructuring. The 2012-2013 season ended at 20-62, one of the worst records by the Magic. The next season wasn’t that good either, as they finished with a 23-59 record, 3rd worst in the NBA. In May 2016, Skiles stepped down as the head coach and Frank Vogel took charge. With Vogel in charge, the team has made several changes in its lineup and is all set to change its record.

Grab these Orlando Magic tickets and see if these guys can get back to the top.