Orlando Magic’s 35th anniversary season about the family bond within the franchise

Ryan Anderson MC'ed the Orlando Magic's tip off to their 35th anniversary season as the team welcomed home some of its family. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Anderson MC'ed the Orlando Magic's tip off to their 35th anniversary season as the team welcomed home some of its family. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic players from every iteration of the team were at center court in front of the team’s 35-year season ticketholders as they tipped off a season for celebration.

Nick Anderson, Bo Outlaw, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson were all there conducting a Q&A looking back at how things have changed and how things have stayed the same. Many of those players may never have played together, but it was a family reunion.

There was Hedo Turkoglu joking about how he needed to sit next to Nick Anderson so that he could feel a little bit younger. Or Lewis joking about his shock that Turkoglu passed him the ball ahead of his game-winning shot in Game 1 of the 2009 Eastern Conference. Or Outlaw jokingly asking everyone how many threes he made in his career and scoffing when Turkoglu offered one — the answer is three by the way, two of which came in his eight seasons with the Magic.

These interactions lasted on and on and on as the Magic’s legends went over their time for the season ticket holders in attendance and kept telling stories about their time with the franchise and why they wanted to return. Nobody wanted the fun to stop as everyone reminisced about the golden age of Magi basketball.

It was getting the family back together. And felt just as warm as any of these get-togethers.

The Orlando Magic celebrated their family, welcoming back some of the franchise’s legends to tip off its 35th anniversary season as the team aims to make new memories this year.

Indeed, that is probably the biggest thing that came out of the Magic’s 35th anniversary tip-off. More than any throwback jersey or court the team would introduce, what matters about the Magic is that it is a true family.

And those bonds were on display as the team celebrated its history Friday.

"“I think that’s what separates this organization from so many others,” Ryan Anderson said. “There is no culture in the majority of these teams. It’s funny the success level sort of balances back to where the culture is and where ownership is and what foundation you are trying to build an organization. There is no question why you see success in certain organizations time and time again.“It’s the culture they are building. That’s what is being built right now. The foundation blocks are being built for the future. We had that with Bo and Nick. The image of Magic culture for us, guys who love the city and love the team. It’s cool to carry that on to the next generation with Jalen. He’s such a great guy. Such a great, picturesque, culture guy.”"

This is at the heart of who the Magic are.

As Anderson put it, returning to Orlando was like returning home for the first time. He got to see how everything around the city had changed and grown. Yet, the Magic were still there. The connection to this family was still there.

Anderson was not the only former player in attendance to express this sentiment either.

The Magic have long prided themselves and sold themselves as a family business. And certainly, the franchise has become more proactive at recognizing and taking care of its alumni — shoutouts to even some more obscure players than the stars of the team occur now regularly at home games.

The franchise has indeed become more and more like a family among the players who wore the uniform and the city that still is in love with its NBA franchise, especially as they fall back in love with it after a long fallow period.

"“I always tell this to everyone, this is really home for me,” Turkoglu said. “I’ve been in the league 15 years and I played for good teams and good coaches and good organizations, but this will always feel like a second home to me. I always feel that. Wherever I go in this city, people always remind me what years we had here as a player and as an organization.“I know this organization always reminds you of my times here, what kind of player I was, what kind of person I was. Whenever I get mentions about it, it gives me chills about those moments. We really had great times.”"

Turkoglu said it is always special to feel that love and support that he and plenty other players have received when they returned to this home. That is the kind of love and celebration the Magic seem eager to share this coming year.

The immediate news was to celebrate the team’s history with the introduction of the team’s Classic Edition jersey for the year.

Jalen Suggs got the honor of debuting the throwback jerseys for the year, coming out wearing the blue stars jerseys worn during the Heart & Hustle year and the Tracy McGrady era of Magic basketball.

The Magic will also use a court with the team’s wordmark from the early 2000s. These two pieces of Magic culture will be the visible celebrations of the Magic’s 35th anniversary celebration. Both will debut officially on opening night for the Orlando Magic’s game against the Houston Rockets.

Everyone seemed excited to bring these jerseys back. Certainly bringing back the Magic’s traditional font also evoked some warm memories. It was a way to once again reconnect with the past — and a part of the past the Magic do not often reconnect with.

There is clearly a lot of excitement for what the Magic will wear to celebrate this anniversary season. Just as there is lots of excitement for the upcoming season and what it could mean for the team Suggs will be a part of.

The echoes of the past to the future were present once again as the Magic prepare for this next generation. The pathway for this group’s success was seen in the stories and ways the past legends built their success.

"“My favorite part is knowing that it hasn’t changed,” Suggs said. “This family feel that we have right now that I’ve come to love since the day I was selected, it was here 35 years ago with Sid [Powell], with all of these guys and their times and things here in Orlando.“Just the true love this place brings and it holds. There is a reason they are all back and there is a reason they all stay here. It’s the reason I’ve been here a lot of the offseason. This is a great time. The jersey is looking clean, the court is looking clean. This just has me excited to start the season.”"

The 35th anniversary season is not just a month away. And yes, Suggs and the Magic are just as excited for it to start as you are.

Suggs said the Magic are indeed trying to chase the places these great players have been. Being able to hear some of their stories and glean some of their wisdom is part of what happens with an organization and part of what happens within the fraternity in the league.

Ultimately this Magic team will be making its own mark and making its own legacy. They will be the ones talking about their time with the franchise in another 15-20 years. They are already part of that fraternity and already feeling part of that family.

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That family atmosphere that every player with the Magic talks about is truly what this franchise wants to be about. And that is part of what the team is celebrating as it looks back to its history this year.