Celebrate every moment of Orlando Magic history this 35th anniversary season

The Orlando Magic's 35th anniversary will allow fans once again to celebrate the team's past as they look ahead to a bright future. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic's 35th anniversary will allow fans once again to celebrate the team's past as they look ahead to a bright future. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have big plans.

There are, of course, the big plans on the court.

The second season with Paolo Banchero. The third season with Franz Wagner, fresh off a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup. Markelle Fultz getting his first healthy full offseason in his career (knocking on wood for the final two weeks). The potential for Jonathan Isaac’s long-awaited return with little restriction.

And then, of course, the optimism and belief that the Magic can be a team that competes for the postseason and return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2020 season in the bubble. More than that, it feels like the team is building toward a long run of playoff trips.

Perhaps this Magic team has the seedlings of becoming title contenders.

There is legitimate excitement about the on-court product for the team. Fans showed up at the Amway Center for a team that ended up going 34-48. It was more than just the curiosity of the first overall pick in Banchero. It was an early buy-in on this team.

There are, of course, big plans off the court this year too.

The Orlando Magic will celebrate their 35th anniversary this season. And with a much-anticipated season and a future to look forward to, the Magic and its fans should embrace every part of their history to celebrate.

Orlando will celebrate its 35th anniversary season this year. The official tip-off for the celebration will come Friday morning at the Amway Center when the team will unveil its Classic Edition jersey for the year (expected to be the Tracy McGrady-era blue star jersey for the first time since the team started doing throwback uniforms) and a new court for at least this season.

The luminaries in attendance for Friday’s tip-off event will be community ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw along with celebrated stalwarts of the Dwight Howard era in Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson.

They will almost certainly not be the last of the Magic legends who are going to return to Orlando and the Amway Center for this celebration.

This anniversary season gives everyone a chance to pause and recognize the team’s past as much as we eagerly await its future. This is a moment to celebrate Magic history and celebrate all of it.

And as Magic fans, everyone should embrace every part of Magic history — both the good and the bad.

Too often, the Magic’s anniversary season has come at a seeming crossroads and moments where the fans, much less the franchise, were ready to celebrate its history.

This is what makes this season and its celebration unique in the young franchise’s history.

Orlando had a strong 10th anniversary season but the 1999 lockout shortened it. The team was too young to begin bringing back some of its great players. Its original draft pick, Nick Anderson, was still on the team. Its best all-time payer, Shaquille O’Neal, was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and bitterly exited the team just three years earlier.

The 15th anniversary season saw the team begin to honor its history — ah, those banners ringing the lone concourse at the TD Waterhouse Centre — but the organization bottomed out and traded Tracy McGrady the following summer. And again, O’Neal was helping the Lakers compete for championships. Nobody was in the mood to celebrate him with those wounds still fresh.

The 20th anniversary season brought the Magic back to the NBA Finals in 2009. It felt cathartic for the franchise to return to the Finals with its new Superman in the building. This was still the brash franchise trying to claim its spot. And, yes, O’Neal was still taking shots at his old franchise and its new star.

The 25th anniversary season brought the introduction of the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame. The organization was ready to be introspective and recognize its great players and figures. The wounds had healed and the team was ready to celebrate its history rather than hide from it.

Magic CEO Alex Martins said he wished the team was better for this celebratory season — they were in the second year of their long rebuild. But that is not how things went. They had to look to the past to stomach the uncertain present and future.

The best story from that season was from Anfernee Hardaway. He was making his first return to the Amway Center that season since departing in 1999 — another bitter exit. He told the media beforehand he was uncertain if fans would cheer him for that reason. But the fans gave him the warmest ovations. He finally was able to return home.

The 30th anniversary did not get the same pomp. But it brought the Magic back to the playoffs as the 2019 made its breakthrough and returned to the postseason after a seven-year absence.

This 35th anniversary season is seeing the Magic make gains on the court with lots of hope and anticipation for what will come sooner than many of us probably think.

It is also bringing the maturity to welcome back fallen heroes and to celebrate every moment of Magic history. And we should celebrate every moment of this team’s history good and bad as part of what makes this team this team and why so many of us still live and die with every moment and player.

We should celebrate Scott Skiles’ 30-assist game and his frustrating departure as head coach.

We should celebrate Anfernee Hardaway’s dynamic play and the vote of no confidence he reportedly led against coach Brian Hill that upended the 1997 season.

We should celebrate Nick Anderson’s steal against Michael Jordan and the four missed free throws of the NBA Finals.

We should celebrate Nikola Vucevic’s everyday excellence and the losses his teams could not seem to avoid.

We should celebrate Dwight Howard lifting the Magic to the NBA Finals and his frustrating Dwight-Mare.

We should celebrate how Shaquille O’Neal lifted Orlando as a place to be and then buried the city with a crater-sized hole they could not ever really fill.

We should celebrate the Orlando Arena, the Amway Center, the pinstripe jerseys, the plain jerseys, the Orlando Magic Theme Song (can we revive Ain’t No Stopping the Magic now?), the 2009 Playoffs theme song (look it up, it exists), John Gabriel, Jon Weisbrod, Rob Hennigan and Jeff Weltman.

All these things — those mentioned here and the countless others that made us Magic fans — are part of the team’s history. They are part of the unique culture that is Magic fandom. They are part of why Magic fans have an obsession with getting noticed. They are part of why there is always that sense of gloom and doom hanging above everything.

They are part of what makes us a family.

Every moment has mattered to endear this franchise, frustrate its fans and give everyone a reason to cheer.

This 35th anniversary season gives us a reason to celebrate it all. Magic fans should be ready to cheer their team on the court and fall in love again with its history all year long.

Next. Top 35 players in Orlando Magic history. dark

This is a season to celebrate the past, cheer on the present and eagerly await the future.