Orlando Magic Announces Hall of Fame
-Team gets ready for 25th anniversary season in grand fashion
By John Denton, OrlandoMagic.com
ORLANDO – Eager to honor and celebrate the great players, coaches and executives who have been a part of their illustrious 25-year history, the Orlando Magic are planning to create a Magic Hall of Fame that will be on display at the Amway Center.
Magic CEO Alex Martins made the announcement on Friday morning – just hours before the Magic’s home-opener to begin the 25th anniversary season – that the Hall of Fame will be a way to help bridge the past with the future of Magic basketball. Initial plans are for it to be designed so that Magic fans can enjoy the exhibits on game nights at the Amway Center.
“We’ve been trying to find a way to recognize the great players who have played for us that in some way memorializes them within the building for our fans,” Martins said. “We feel like this is the perfect way to do it. It will be a nice recognition for players, coaches and executives who have been a part of our history.’
City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs issued proclamations on Friday at the Amway Center to celebrate the Magic’s 25 seasons in Orlando. Dyer lauded the Magic’s success on the court and their tremendous willingness to make a difference in the community. He pointed out the Magic’s giving of approximately $18 million to nonprofit ventures through the years.
“I can’t think of a better ownership group in professional sports than the Orlando Magic,” Dyer said. “They have been significant contributors with youth programming. A lot of what we’ve been able to do in the Parramore area has been because the Magic. They have been true community heroes and partners.”
Martins, Dyer and Jacobs made a point on Friday to recognize Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams, the leader who along with original owner Jimmy Hewitt, was influential in the NBA picking Orlando as an expansion franchise. Williams was delighted with the announcement that the Magic will be creating a Hall of Fame exhibit and he said he’s looking forward to the Magic having a place where it can honor all of their great players and coaches from the past.
“It will be like a scrapbook. All of these players that we drafted or acquired in some fashion, here they are and we’ll have a parade of them…right in front of our eyes,” Williams said of the Magic’s plans to honor great players throughout this season. “I think it’s going to be so enjoyable for our fans. And personally it will mean a lot to me seeing a lot of the guys that I was a part of drafting or trading for. It will be great fun.”
Nick Anderson, the first player ever drafted by the Magic and now a community ambassador for the franchise, made a strong push right away for Williams to be the first inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. Anderson lauded Williams for being a father figure and a motivator for him, and he said there would be no Magic in Orlando if not for the legendary vision of Williams.
“You go all the way back to the start and you can’t begin a Hall of Fame without Pat Williams,” said Anderson, who played for the Magic for 10 seasons. “He was the leader and the one who made this all possible. He has to be the first one in (the Hall of Fame).”
The Magic will honor Tracy McGrady, a four-time All-Star and a two-time NBA scoring champion during his four seasons in Orlando from 2000-04, on Friday night during the home-opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Magic also announced on Friday that they will hold a similar ceremony next week for Anderson, the second-leading scorer in franchise history.
Anderson said he is still honored today at all of the respect and support that the Magic and fans in Central Florida have shown him since he joined the team in 1989.
“I didn’t expect any of this, but it is an honor and a privilege and I’m thankful and grateful,” said Anderson, who is a lock to also be in the Magic’s Hall of Fame someday. “When I was drafted, it was to come down here and play basketball and didn’t expect any accolades. But all that has happened shows me the respect that the fans and organization have given me for so long. They’ve given me inspiration and drive.”
Martins was also a part of the Magic as the public relations director for the inaugural squad in 1989. He’s been with the Magic franchise for more than 20 years and said he has his own list of personal favorites who he hopes will someday be inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame.
“I would imagine someday that someone like (FOX Sports Florida’s) David Steele would be there as the only voice of the Magic for 25 years,” Martins said. “It will just be a great place over the course of time for fans who come along during the next 25 years who didn’t see certain players or coaches and get an opportunity to recognize the contributions that they made to our team.”
Martins acknowledged that there is a difference between a Hall of Fame induction and the retirement of a player’s number. In its history, Orlando has only retired the No. 6 jersey as a nod to Magic fans being the team’s Sixth Man. Martins said the franchise is still considering what numbers for individual players could be retired in the coming years.
“Jersey retirement for a player is the highest of honors for a player and a franchise,” Martins said. “It’s to celebrate the players, who over the course of time have made the most impact on the team and the league. That will always be a consideration and we’ll continue to evaluate who and when we do those kinds of things. We have a list of criteria that we will always use as the measuring stick, and we’ll go from there.”