Since their inception in 1989, the Orlando Magic have become one of the most recognized expansion teams in the NBA, taking 5 division titles and 2 conference championships throughout their young history. Though the Magic have never won a championship, losing both times that they appeared in the NBA Finals, the team has featured some of the most notable names in basketball, including Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Patrick Ewing, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard. Despite recent upsets, the Orlando-based team continues to pack in the crowds at the Amway Center with rim-rattling action brought by stars such as Evan Fournier and Mario Hezonja. Grab tickets to cheer on the team as they fight for another spot in the NBA Playoffs.
Alongside the Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Hornets, and their in-state rivals the Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic were 1 of the 4 new expansion teams to join the NBA in 1988 and ‘89. Their first season opened with a bang as they won their debut game against then-reigning champs the Detroit Pistons—though they eventually lost their first 3 seasons in a row. Then in 1992 came a little player by the name of Shaquille O’Neal. At 7’1” and 350 pounds, Shaq immediately made an impact on the team, leading the Magic to their first .500 season and helping them to become the most improved franchise in the NBA. Though they narrowly missed the playoffs that season, they went on to appear in the next 4, take 2 division titles, and win the conference championship in 1995. That same year, they made it all the way to the Finals but lost in 4 games to the Houston Rockets.
Following Shaq’s departure for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996, the Magic hit a bit of a slump over the next decade, despite signing players such as Tracy McGrady and Mike Miller. They returned to the playoffs 5 times in the next 10 years but never made it past the opening round. The team then saw their greatest success in the mid-2000s after signing superstar rookies Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick, along with vet Rashard Lewis. Following a few years of struggles, they returned to the playoffs for 6 straight seasons beginning in 2007. They took 3 consecutive division titles between 2008 and 2010, won another conference title in 2009, and made their second and most recent appearance in the Finals that same year.
The last several years have been met with many changes in coaches, general managers, and players, including the trading of Howard to the LA Lakers in 2012. The Orlando Magic have since been in a period of rebuilding, failing to appear in the playoffs since Howard’s departure. Today, under Head Coach Frank Vogel, the team is working to regain their footing the conference and has brought on players such as Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic. Get Magic tickets to cheer on these stars as they battle it out against rivals like the Miami Heat, the Detroit Pistons, and the Houston Rockets.