The Orlando Magic have had a strong history of characters and players through their 30 years. We now review who the most popular players in Magic history.
Every team can usually point easily to who the best player in franchise history is. Or at least point to who is among the best.
For the Orlando Magic, there is a Mt. Rushmore of four players who are unquestionably the best the team has ever seen. They define the franchise’s history and tell its story in a simple bow through their exploits on the court. Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard are the titans for the franchise.
That tells the general story for the team. It gets fans caught up and helps them understand the history. But those are not the details. They are great players who drive team success, but they are not always the ones that make a team memorable or really endear fans to the team.
There is a second tier of players the wriggle their way into a team’s story and narrative. They may not be the players that generate the star power, but they are the grinders who endear themselves to a team’s fans.
After the Finals and championship-contending teams, no Magic team likely generates more excitement or wistful nostalgia like the 1999-2000 Heart and Hustle team. The group of castoffs featuring Darrell Armstrong (plucked from obscurity in 1995 and a fixture in overfitted beige suits during the team’s Finals run) and Bo Outlaw (a player who did not discover basketball until high school but had a grin that went beyond ear to ear) nearly made the Playoffs in a clear tanking year based on grit and determination alone.
Capturing these players and creating a list for these players to shine is at the heart of what we are searching for in this year’s ranking list.
This year, I gathered the Orlando Magic Daily staff to try to discover who is the most popular player in Magic history. Last year, we as a staff ranked every team in franchise history and the year before we ranked the top players.
From there, I asked my Twitter follower to nominate players to included in the list and conducted several days worth of Twitter polls to give the fans a voice in the vote. I also enlisted the help of the Orlando Magic subreddit community for their lists of the most popular players in team history.
But this year, we went for something a bit more nebulous. Popularity is a harder thing to measure. A player can be popular for doing very little. And the stars are always popular.
There is a bit of recency bias of course. Not everyone remembers who was truly popular during the mid-1990s runs or in the expansion year.
There is also a bit of nostalgia involved. Old feuds and disagreements with fans die as time passes on. No one remembers how players exit as they think about what the player truly did while they were in a Magic uniform.
And I left the definition of popularity intentionally vague so every voter can define it how they want. Does it mean national popularity? Team popularity?
With all that in mind, let’s count down the 30 most popular players in Magic history as voted on by the Orlando Magic Daily staff and contributions from our online Twitter polls and the Orlando Magic subreddit community.