Orlando Magic Top 30: The Most Popular Snubs

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Carlos Arroyo (2006-08)

There may be no player in Orlando Magic history who was as much of a cultural sensation as Carlos Arroyo when he arrived in Orlando in the middle of the 2006 season.

Sure, Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard eventually sold tickets with their supreme talent. They were among the best players in the league and the kind of players who make longtime fans. Those are the pillars.

But sometimes a player means a lot for what he represents and the place and time he is there.

When the Magic acquired Carlos Arroyo (along with personal favorite Darko Milicic) at the trade deadline, a 36-46 team suddenly became one of the hottest tickets in town.

The first home game the Magic played after the trade was against the Seattle Supersonics. A good team at the time that featured Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. It sold out. A somewhat unusual thing, but certainly understandable for a Magic team that was still in the Playoff race.

The next game was against the Houston Rockets. Not nearly the level of opponent. It too sold out.

The reason? It was clear from the Puerto Rican flags that started showing up inside the TD Waterhouse Centre. They were there to see their national hero.

Arroyo made his first big name as a basketball player in the 2004 upset of the United States during the Olympics. He had pieced together a solid, but hardly spectacular NBA career. Coming to Orlando sparked a ton of fan interest.

Orlando has the eighth largest Puerto Rican population in the country, according to the 2010 Census. That number has surely grown as Florida has accepted Puerto Ricans fleeing Hurricane Maria last year. Osceola County especially has a very large Puerto Rican population.

Arroyo’s arrival in Orlando was as close to a homecoming as he might have. And the community absolutely embraced him.

The Magic were quick to take advantage. Team stores inside the arena began selling Puerto Rican flags and Arroyo jerseys with the Puerto Rican flag on them. He was a cultural sensation.

Pretty good for a guy who averaged only 7.9 points per game and shot a 47.3 percent effective field goal percentage in his three seasons in Orlando.