Our series on the four jerseys fans of every NBA team continues today. It’s Southeast Division week, and today we’re focusing on the Orlando Magic. Remember, we’re not just going to list off four popular players in team history. We know that when you’re wearing a jersey, you’re going for a “look.” So every day we’re going to tell you the jersey you’ve got to have, the jersey you can’t go wrong with (in case you can’t find the first one), the jersey that will make people say “Oh, that’s awesome,” and the joke jersey that will have everyone laughing.
The Magic are an interesting team with just enough history to make you feel like they’ve been around for a long time, but a past short enough to remind you that they’re relatively new. In 22 seasons, they’ve won 52% of their games and made the playoffs 13 times… which amounts to a pretty good run. But they’ve seen their biggest star bolt and other flame out. They’ve been close, but close enough and even now there are serious questions about whether to continue trying with their current squad or trade away another megastar and star over.
It puts us in a precarious position when it comes to choosing four jerseys for Orlando fans. We don’t like precarious positions much, so we called in the expert. Our own Phil Rossman-Reich, who runs Orlando Magic Daily, joined in the debate and came up with these choices. Take it away, Phil.
Dwight Howard — With the Stay Dwight campaign in full swing, every Magic fan is trying to show his or her support for Dwight Howard. Howard has been a bedrock for the Magic in his seven-year career and a model player — working hard both on and off the court and in the community. As far as superstars go, there may not be a more likable star in the team’s history.
Even if he ends up leaving (or getting traded), I imagine it will still be “cool” to wear a Dwight Howard jersey. Howard was the linchpin to two of the best teams in Magic history and the longest sustained run of success in franchise history. Howard very likely is the best player in franchise history. And the best part is there are so many styles of #12 Howard jerseys to choose from — rookie year plain to throwback pinstripe to new-age pinstripe.
Can’t Go Wrong With:
Anfernee Hardaway — This was a tough one that John, Jeff and I had a lot of conversation about. It came down to this: if Penny and Darrell Armstrong (see below) walked into a coffee shop together, who would you be clamoring for to get an autograph. I admitted it might be Penny. And enough time should have passed by now to make honoring Hardaway acceptable after a bitter divorce in late 1999.
Hardaway represents a lot of the good that came from the first title run. Shaquille O’Neal left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, meanwhile Penny stayed and played well — albeit fighting injuries the rest of his time in Orlando. Hardaway was a superstar, unlike Nick Anderson whose jersey you also cannot go wrong with, and a link to the Magic’s most successful run. We really should not bat an eye if we start seeing #1 Hardaway jerseys at Amway Center again.
“Oh, That’s Cool”:
Darrel Armstrong — Most non-Magic fans do not even remember Darrell Armstrong. If they do, they probably remember him for the worst performance in slam dunk contest history. But if you want to let the world know you are a serious Magic fan, rocking a #10 is a sure way to do that. Armstrong was the heart and soul of the Magic throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was someone you knew would come to play hard for every moment of every game. He was the kind of person who endeared himself to fans in a way few players in Magic history have.
Magic fans were cheering against Miami in the Finals as much as they were cheering for Darrell, an assistant coach with Dallas, to win the title. That is how things were with Darrell. Every Magic fan just wants him to be successful because he gave so much to the team and franchise.
“Oh, That’s Funny”:
Doug Christie — The photo to your right might look like your everyday nondescript 2003 Tracy McGrady jersey. Actually, it is. But it underwent some modifications after McGrady was traded and Orlando acquired Doug Christie. Yes, Christie’s time in Orlando was very very very (and heck, why not one more) very forgettable. He was clearly upset that Sacramento had traded him East and proudly displayed the bone spurs in a press conference to show how much he did not want to play in Orlando.
But McGrady was so hated, and at the time a lot of Magic fans believed Christie was the defender Orlando needed to get back into the Playoffs the year after McGrady left, that some fans, including me, made a few edits to their jerseys. Yes, I actually wore a McGrady-turned-Christie jersey to a few games (including a road tilt with Miami where Christie did not even play), but so did a few others at the TD Waterhouse Centre.
All we needed was a little rage, a sharpie and blue duct tape. And voila, vengeance and a new jersey!
There you have it. The four jerseys Magic fans have got to have. Disagree with us? Let us know who we missed in the comments.
Tomorrow: The Miami Heat
Jeff Garcia collaborated on this post
Photo: The Phillip Rossman-Reich Collection