Orlando Magic should celebrate their T-Mac era jerseys

The Orlando Magic's pinstripe jerseys are universally loved. But Tracy McGrady's jerseys have a cult appreciation among Magic fans. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Gross/ Allsport.
The Orlando Magic's pinstripe jerseys are universally loved. But Tracy McGrady's jerseys have a cult appreciation among Magic fans. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Gross/ Allsport. /

The Orlando Magic are set to get one more jersey this year and it appears it will pay homage to the Magic’s second-best jersey set.

The Orlando Magic’s jersey set will never live up to the original.

The pinstripe uniforms Orlando wore from the 1990-98 seasons are universally beloved across the entire league. Everyone appreciates the traditional pinstripe jerseys in almost every way. The team is constantly trying to chase this mark.

Their current jerseys tried to return to pinstripes and are something of an homage or an attempt to create a modern version of the pinstripes. In the end, the current jersey set is accepted but not beloved.

Nothing will ever be the pinstripes.

While every five years when the team gets clearance to wear the original pinstripe design once again, fans clamor for a return to the original uniforms, there is a growing groundswell to show appreciation for another jersey set.

While it is not nearly as beloved or universally praised, the Tracy McGrady-era white and blue jerseys the team wore from 1999-2003 are slowly getting more appreciation. Fans have begun to call for the team to wear these as a potential throwback (“Classic Edition”) or as another alternative jersey.

The Magic unveiled their City Edition jersey — an orange set inspired by their original pinstripe uniforms — but they will have one more jersey they will wear this year.

After taking a year off last season, the league is bringing back the Earned Edition jerseys for teams that made the playoffs.

And the T-Mac jerseys might finally be getting the proper homage they deserve, if this leak is to be believed:

The general response to these jerseys is complete distaste for the team slapping its secondary logo on the front of the jersey. At first glance, it looks like the team’s original City Edition jersey — the infamous “Space” uniforms.

But the one element that everyone seems to like is how the uniform inlays star designs along the side paneling. This is reminiscent of those T-Mac era jerseys, which had a star pattern inlaid within the fabric creating a neat holographic effect.

If anything, the biggest suggestion I got about the jersey and how it could improve was to make it look more like those early 2000s jerseys.

Regardless of where the Magic’s jerseys go next, the early 2000s jerseys deserve recognition in the Magic’s pantheon. Whether that comes as a full Classic Edition jersey soon or some other alternate design, these jerseys deserve a place on the Amway Center floor again.

We will still await official word on what the Magic’s Earned Edition jerseys will be. This design seems like one that could grow on the fan base — and it certainly is not the worst design the Magic have had in recent years or even since the Nike contract began.

But the Magic’s second try at a jersey is starting to get its rightful due.

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This latest jersey design is the first sign of those jerseys’ lasting impact on the Magic’s overall aesthetic. Or perhaps a preview of the Magic paying proper homage to these jersey sets as the team ponders future City Edition or Statement Edition jerseys moving forward or a long-overdue overhaul of the team’s base Association and Icon Edition jerseys. The Magic have worn these same “new pinstripe” uniforms since the 2009 season.

Teams have reached back into their past plenty as Nike has shipped out new jerseys every year. Teams throughout the league are constantly calling back to designs fans like — the Toronto Raptors’ Earned Edition jersey in the photo above is certainly a throwback to the team’s original use of purple in its logo.

Orlando’s latest City Edition jersey is also trying to bring back the pinstripes. The team created an orange-pinstriped jersey with O-R-L written in the Magic’s original font. It got everyone nostalgic for sure.

The Magic have done well to sprinkle in the pinstripes and the original font where they can. Fans absolutely want more.

But everyone is still waiting for the 2023-24 season when the Magic will be in an “anniversary” season and can bring back their pinstripe throwback jerseys once again.

The more pinstripes the better. And the closer to the original jerseys the better. Although they will not be the original design.

Those original pinstripe jerseys usually suck up all the oxygen in the room when it comes to Magic jersey history. They are so beloved and perfect in every way, nobody talks about the design that followed them.

While not as good, the Magic’s original “star” jerseys were classic in their own sense. They were simplistic yet still distinct. Subtle, but still capable of making a statement.

The only thing those jerseys are missing is a defining on-court moment. Aside from Tracy McGrady’s nightly barrage on the team’s scoring records and opposing defenses, the Magic did not win in those jerseys. They were easily forgotten.

Giving even this small tribute to this important design feature of the Magic logo is something the team should certainly do.

And who knows? Maybe the Magic are planning something more.

After all, they have not changed their base jersey set since before the 2009 season, making the current Association jersey (the white jersey) the longest-running jersey in Magic history. the team is due for a bit of a refresh and brand update. Maybe they are waiting for the right star — like Dwight Howard was in 2009 — to market this rebrand around.

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But these jerseys should have their influence and finally seem to be getting their due in the pantheon of Magic cultural items.