It’s time to add 2009 Orlando Magic to NBA 2K to get best picture of the era

The 2009 Orlando Magic were quietly one of the most impactful teams in league history. But still no love from NBA 2K. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
The 2009 Orlando Magic were quietly one of the most impactful teams in league history. But still no love from NBA 2K. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) /

No team changed its era quite like the 2009 Orlando Magic. It is time for them to take their place in NBA 2K as a classic team for all to enjoy.

If there is one thing NBA 2K has done a good job of — and that list is many depending on how you feel about the game — is its job of rescuing and educating young fans on historic teams.

As fans wait for the latest updates every year to the game — the improved graphics and gameplay — the one thing many wait on most is to see which classic teams get added to the game. The MyTeam mode is built essentially as a tribute to the game’s history, allowing fans to play and create teams with players across generations — both stars and role players.

The addition of classic teams gave fans a wave of nostalgia as they could take their favorite teams and play as them against others in fantasy matches and even put them in a season against current teams or against other classic teams.

Some of their stats and attributes might get a small upgrade to fit the modern style — 3-point shooting especially — but it at least gives fans an avenue to study up on the game’s legends.

But there are obviously gaps. Some classic teams — like maybe the 1990s era Indiana Pacers or even more classic teams like the 1980s Dallas Mavericks or Phoenix Suns — simply get forgotten to history as the game favors more modern teams.

There are a lot of teams that fall through the cracks. None more so than the 2009 Orlando Magic. This is a team that has a cultural and historical impact on the league. Dwight Howard may get laughed at now, but he is still considered one of the best players of his era. It seems wrong not to have one of his teams available to play.

Not to mention, the way that team played with a rim-running center and tons of 3-point shooting is readymade for video game enjoyment.

The recency bias in selecting historic teams should only work in the Magic’s favor.

Many of the historic teams included in the game are much more recent. Teams that feature great what-ifs among them. There are 12 teams from 2010 and beyond — only four of them were title winners.

Not even the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers have their team in 2K. Instead, you have the Grit’n’Grind Memphis Grizzlies, the Carmelo Anthony-led New York Knicks and Brandon Roy-era Portland Trail Blazers teams.

None of them are bad. They are worthy of inclusion for their cultural resonance and significance, of course. Their players stand out to the recent narratives. We should remember those teams.

But we should also remember the 2009 Magic. They took down perhaps the best team from LeBron James‘ first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were one of the first teams of the modern era to prove 3-point shooting could win at a high level. They had a dynamic and unique star in Dwight Howard who anchored the whole thing.

The Magic — if not the 2009 version, then certainly the 2010 version with Vince Carter — certainly deserve a place among these kinds of teams. The 2009 Magic were one of the most important teams in NBA history and full of players that have some resonance beyond that team.

Of course, part of the problem with using this team was until last year Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis had not signed on to be in the game.

Classic players can be used in the game if they give the game permission. This is why Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller are not in the game, keeping out the 1993 Suns and the 1990s Pacers. It would have been impossible to make the Magic without Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis.

But both gave their approval in the middle of last season. They both became late additions in the game’s MyTeam mode. That only raised the excitement for the possibility of adding the 2009 Magic to the game.

But the game was released, new teams were added and the 1995 Magic remain the only classic Magic team in the game.

Yet, the 2009 Magic still make an appearance, you just have to know where to look.

In the MyTeam mode, the game created a series of challenges following Howard’s career that came with several players from that team required to complete those challenges. In that collection, you can play as Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Courtney Lee, Marcin Gortat and J.J. Redick.

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Additionally, defeating a version of the 2009 Magic is part of the Andre Iguodala set of challenges. You get Tyronn Lue for your troubles as a reward. But that team is incomplete. It starts Tyronn Lue (he is a ruby card while the Jameer Nelson card is an emerald that evolves into a better player) and the team makes limited subs.

The 2009 Magic exist in the game, even if they are different in slight ways and have zero depth. It is close, but not anywhere near the full thing.

At minimum then, there are eight players from the Magic’s 2009 team including all five regular starters. But there are still key players missing and it is unknown whether they have signed up to be in the game.

The key missing players are Rafer Alston, Mickael Pietrus, Keith Bogans and Tony Battie. Those are not exactly the craziest names that people are demanding for the game. But it would not be crazy for them to get added to the game. Plenty of other role players have made their way into the game.

The door is wide open for the team to get added.

Even if the game wanted to add the 2010 team, Ryan Anderson, Vince Carter and Matt Barnes are playable characters. That probably fits too and the 2010 Magic would be just as much fun to play with.

It is clear one of those two teams could find their way into the game, quite easily. The players are mostly there. Whether there are last-minute approvals and permissions they have to get.

The impact of that 2009 team was apparent. The league suddenly transformed into a spread-floor, 3-point shooting league. The Magic in 2009 were the first team to use that strategy and win at a high level.

They deserve some recognition. Besides, Howard (at least the Magic version) is really fun to play with his high block rate and killer defense — not to mention the dunking.

If the game wants to get a clearer picture of the late-2000s and the teams that defined that era, it has to include that Magic team.

Next. 2009 Orlando Magic needed struggles to succeed. dark

With most of the rotation players now fully in the game — and an important part of it too — it is time to make the 2009 Magic a permanent part of NBA 2K.