The Orlando Magic have to do right by its past and future players and retire certain jersey numbers so fans can look up and see all of the amazing players.
Darrell Armstrong was going to have his day, just as Nick Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady and Anfernee Hardaway had theirs in years before. They would meet with the media and family for their honor before the game and walk to center court with Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins next to him for recognition with the crowd.
Ever since the Orlando Magic started its Hall of Fame, it has been a brief and important recognition of the team’s best players.
At the Orlando Magic fan experience in the Amway Center sits pedestals lining the wall to recognize the best players in team history. A way for the franchise to bring back and honor their best players.
But you have to know where to find it. And the mid-quarter celebrations for the best players in franchise history sometimes feel rushed. The celebration is over in a moment.
A player like Armstrong — a player like all those players already in the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame — deserves a whole lot more. They all deserve a brighter moment in the sun.
They deserve to have their jersey retired and hung in the arena bowl.
Most teams in the NBA honor former players by retiring their numbers. They get a permanent reminder in the arena bowl for every fan walking in to see.
It is impossible to miss that big jersey with its number hanging in the rafters. Future players know they do not step on the legacies of the best players in franchise history by not repeating numbers of the legends of the team they join.
Multiple teams have retired the number six to honor the fans as the sixth man for their respective teams. The Magic are one of those teams, but they have no other number retired.
Instead, the Magic have their team hall of fame where they honor their players. But their jerseys do not go up in the arena bowl. There is no special night with speeches and tributes from old teammates. There is nothing prominent that every fan has to see.
The Orlando Magic Hall of Fame is on the East Terrace Level of the Amway Center in the Orlando Magic Fan Experience (the team’s mini-museum of Magic history). It is not in an area where every fan travels. It is easy to miss it on your trip to the Amway Center.
This is how the Magic have chosen to honor their players.
The team reportedly considered several ways to do so before its 25th anniversary season in 2013-14 before settling on the Hall of Fame. Martins has said the team has criteria for retiring jersey, but no player has met it yet.
It is widely assumed that the first requirement is to win a championship. Still, it is disappointing to see the Magic have their first two Hall of Famers in Shaquille O’Neal and Tracy McGrady and all either player got for it was a mid-court ceremony between the first and second quarters and the chance to be on the team’s television broadcast for the second quarter.
For fans, the debate has always been about the best way to honor players. Every other team goes through this jersey retirement ceremony. This is the way everyone does it so the Magic go against the grain.
Whether they keep the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame or not should not affect the retirement of jerseys as the Magic have amazing players in their history as a franchise.
There are players the Magic should very clearly retire jerseys for. They have Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Tracy McGrady and Nick Anderson as clear standouts to have their numbers hung in the rafters. Other Magic legends such as Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Darrell Armstrong and, eventually, Dwight Howard will have an argument too.
But the franchise has decided to honor their players another way.
Still, there is something missing not having those jerseys hanging in the rafters in the arena bowl. The Miami Heat retired O’Neal’s jersey. While he won a title there in 2006, his impact and legacy are much deeper in Orlando than in South Florida.
That might be the biggest disconnect for fans. Everyone else honors their players this way, why wouldn’t the Magic hold a special night and make a more prominent honor for their best?
Opposing players and fans should be able to walk into the arena and look up to see the franchise’s rich history.
Orlando has competed for championships in the past and was led by great players who deserve to be honored by the team.
The team may want to keep its tradition of having the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame, which is completely understandable and should be supported by the fans. There are players the team should honor in this way that do not quite rise to the level of jersey retirement.
But the Magic have to do right by its past and future players and retire certain jersey numbers so fans can look up and see all of the amazing players that put on the pinstripes.