Filling out the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame — 2022 Edition

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LANDOVER, MD – CIRCA 1994: Nick Anderson #25 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1994 at US Airways Arena in Landover, Maryland. Anderson played for the Magic from 1989-99. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD – CIRCA 1994: Nick Anderson #25 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1994 at US Airways Arena in Landover, Maryland. Anderson played for the Magic from 1989-99. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Filling out the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame

The Current Hall

The place to start then it would seem is to establish who is in the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame already.

The choices the Magic have made and even the order in which the team has endeavored to put them has had some significance.

With 25 years of history already written, the Magic were due for a formal honoring of their history. Again, most teams would reserve that for retiring a jersey. But to that point, Orlando opened itself up to honor a wide variety of players who played an important role in Magic history.

If the idea of retiring jerseys should only go to the elite of the elite in franchise history, then having an intermediate step is vital too. That is a place to make sure all the major players get their shine, even if they do not get that highest honor in the arena bowl.

It is still not clear if the Magic will ever bestow that honor or if they are truly waiting to give it to the player who helps deliver their first championship.

Nick Anderson (Inducted: 2014)

The first player to go into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame was the obvious one. As would be the first jersey retired when the Magic do retire jerseys. Anderson is considered the original Magic player since he was the team’s first draft pick.

He played 10 years with the team and was key to their first Finals run in 1995. But then came back to the team as a community ambassador. There is no player who embodies this team like Anderson.

Pat Williams (Inducted: 2014)

Like Nick Anderson, there was no other choice for the first class for the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame. Quite simply, there is no Magic franchise without the belief and hard work Pat Williams put into selling the team to the city and selling the city to the NBA.

It really was a miracle that Williams worked to bring the NBA to Orlando and create this franchise. The fact that he continued on as an executive for the first several seasons and made Orlando a permanent home only adds to the story.

Shaquille O’Neal (Inducted: 2015)

No player probably defines the entire Orlando Magic franchise like Shaquille O’Neal. The team is still probably escaping from his considerable shadow.

O’Neal was a dominant force, propelling the Magic into the playoff picture for the first time immediately upon his arrival and into the NBA Finals by his third year in the league.

Rich DeVos (Inducted: 2016)

No one could completely fault ownership for looking to honor itself. But the organization knew that its longtime patriarch needed the honor while he could still be there — DeVos would die in Sept. 2018.

There is plenty to say about DeVos’ ownership on many levels. But he and his family have now owned the team for 30 years. He brought stable ownership to a young franchise. And while there were rocky moments, his “change of heart” is ultimately the reason the team is still in Orlando.

Anfernee Hardaway (Inducted: 2017)

There is no run to the NBA Finals in 1995 without the acquisition and arrival of Anfernee Hardaway. He was on pace to redefine the point guard position as a 6-foot-7 lead guard who could weave through traffic and finish at the rim with explosion and force.

Anfernee Hardaway was the perfect partner for a young Shaquille O’Neal as the quiet but confident playmaker. If not for injuries, we would probably be talking about Hardaway entering the Basketball Hall of Fame and not just the Orlando Magic one.

Jimmy Hewitt (Inducted: 2017)

Like Pat Williams, there is no Orlando Magic without the belief of Jimmy Hewitt. Hewitt was the Orlando businessman who convinced Williams to check out Orlando and take on the challenge of bringing major professional sports to The City Beautiful. He ended up not being part of that original ownership group, but he is the spiritual founder of the franchise.

Tracy McGrady (Inducted: 2018)

There is no greater scorer in Orlando Magic history than Tracy McGrady. He was a force for his four seasons in Orlando and was one of the very best players in the NBA. McGrady could do everything on the floor.

His only career detraction is that he was never able to get out of the first round of the playoffs (not until he latched onto the San Antonio Spurs late in his career). That was never his fault. Part of his brilliance was how he carried some suspect supporting casts consistently into the playoffs. But that is just how good he was.

David Steele (Inducted: 2019)

The Orlando Magic have had one consistent voice on their air through their entire 33-year history. David Steele started with the team as its radio play-by-play broadcaster before moving to TV.

It is hard to imagine Magic games without Steele’s voice narrating it. His mix of humor, knowledge and balance makes him one of the very best local broadcasters in the entire league. Magic fans have been spoiled with one of the best broadcasts in the league.

Darrell Armstrong (Inducted: 2020)

Darrell Armstrong’s story is one of the most incredible stories in the NBA. He was a little-known player at Fayetteville State who played basketball overseas and then in the CBA when Orlando Magic scouts caught wind of him. They brought him in and it was impossible not to like him.

When he started playing for the Magic, fans simply fell in love with him. He was all hustle and energy and that helped spread throughout the team. He was the defining player of the beloved Heart and Hustle team of the 2000 season and just the heartbeat of the team for the seasons he played here.

John Gabriel (Inducted: 2022)

John Gabriel has worn many hats in his time with the Orlando Magic. He actually started as an assistant coach. But he is probably most known for his time in the front office, taking over in the late 1990s and guiding the team through its first rebuild after Shaquille O’Neal left.

Gabriel was one of the true innovators in using cap space, doing maneuvers to create the space to sign Horace Grant in 1995 and then gutting the team to open cap space to chase Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady in 2000. He has been a presence throughout the NBA even after initially leaving the Magic and now serves as a special advisor for Jeff Weltman.

Brian Hill (Inducted: 2022)

Briant Hill too was an early arrival for the Orlando Magic, eventually becoming the team’s second head coach and guiding the team to its first playoff berth and the NBA Finals in 1995. He was a tough, no-nonsense guy but softened enough to expand the Magic’s offense and become one of the first teams to use 3-point shooting in a significant way.

His second stint with the team did not go as well. Still, his early coaching and staff laid the foundations for the 2009 Finals run when Stan Van Gundy took over for him following a 2007 return to the Playoffs.