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 23 days until regular season basketball in the Amway Center!
Christmas Day 1995.
Orlando was still trying to determine its place in the NBA. Fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, the team’s supremacy atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference was constantly being questioned. Michael Jordan looked back into basketball form after his baseball sabbatical and had his Bulls playing at a record pace. Shaquille O’Neal missed the first weeks of the season with an injury, forcing the team to use Jon Koncak as the team’s starting center.
When Houston Rockets came to town for the first time since Game Two of the 1995 NBA Finals, all that did not matter. When Paul Porter announced in his typical sarcastic drawl, “Ladies and gentlemen, the NBA champion Houston Rockets,” I remember feeling just pure and utter disgust. They had taken our dream of winning a championship. Nothing would be better than taking down the two-time defending champs in their first trip back to the Orlando Arena.
The game delivered on every promise — and the unfulfilled promise of the 1995 series.
Penny Hardaway struggled on this night, missing 14 shots. But he made sure to make the one that counted. He made a lay up with 3.1 seconds left to keep the Magic undefeated at home and give Brian Hill and the Magic a pretty awesome Christmas gift.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. Or roasted over an open fire on a white Christmas.
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.