The Amway Center is set to open its doors to basketball on October 10 for a preseason game between the Magic and the Hornets. The regular season starts October 28 as Orlando takes on Washington. With the countdown on to the premier of the Magic’s new building, I thought it would be good to give Orlando Arena a proper send-off and recount some of the best memories from our old home.
We are t-minus 71 days until regular season basketball in the Amway Center!
No game really summarized the Tracy McGrady era of Magic basketball like this one. It is easy to forget just how good McGrady was in a Magic uniform and this game really displayed all his scoring abilities — while at the same time occurring during one of the most painful seasons. It was possibly McGrady’s last great moment in a Magic uniform.
So Orlando was in the midst of its embarrassing 21-61 season in 2003-04. Rumors were beginning to swirl McGrady was unhappy and wanted a way out and fans were beginning to turn their attention toward a young, skinny kid from Atlanta (or a bruising center from Connecticut).
T-Mac would later say he quit on the team during this season, but it was hard to tell after the way he performed in the mid-March game against the equally lowly Wizards — hey, remember the Magic swept the Wizards that year.
Just watch the above video. It is hard not to have your breath taken away by the way McGrady lightly moves around picks or drives past defenders. Or the way he creates space and easily rises up and shoots — not to mention the rate he makes those shots. This was the McGrady Magic fans were treated to for five seasons.
But taking a closer look at this game, you also remember the reason McGrady needed to score 62 points. Washington was never really out of the game. McGrady had to score all those points to ensure a (rare) Magic win. Gilbert Arenas scored more than 40 points himself to keep the Wizards in the game.
And perhaps McGrady’s most amazing shot did not even count. T-Mac was fouled at about mid court, took two steps and drained a half-court shot. It was one of those nights.
It was a night that showed McGrady’s offensive mastery but also the team’s unfulfilled promise in the McGrady era. He was good enough to make the team mediocre, but his truly amazing feats never really counted — i.e. the Playoffs, especially deep in the Playoffs.
Instead all we have are these great YouTube highlights of McGrady’s mastery. And no game may have been as emblematic of that than the arena’s all-time scoring record.
We will be reminiscing about Orlando Arena for the rest of the summer. Have a memory you would like remembered? Tweet us with your memories @OMagicDaily, comment to this article or contact us through the Web site.