5 best Shaquille O'Neal moments with the Orlando Magic
5. Mickey Mouse is Cool...?
1992: Shaquille O'Neal drafted to the Orlando Magic - and dons the Mickey ears
Drafting Shaquille O'Neal has to be the start of this list. It had been decades since the last surefire number-one pick and franchise cornerstone came straight out of college. He was that dude, and he proved it on and off the court.
There is a reason every team that participated in the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery secretly had a version of their team's jersey with O'Neal emblazoned on the back ready to go if they won the Lottery. The Magic's version was the only one the public would see that day.
It was truly a transformational moment for the franchise. The Orlando Magic really were getting their first superstar.
As This Magic Moment related though, there was always intrigue around O'Neal. He loved drama. There was at least some belief O'Neal was not going to head to the small market of Orlando. He was always too big for a small city like Orlando.
But arrive he did. And before even appearing in a game for the Magic, O'Neal embraced Orlando and made it cool, famously donning Mickey Mouse ears after stepping off the plane in Orlando.
All of a sudden, Mickey Mouse was cool. Disney World was cool. Of course, it was because Shaq made them cool.
The thought process in Orlando: Whatever Shaq does, we do. Everything he does is cool. Even the Magic Kingdom (would that be Orlando Arena?).
Once he got on the court, it got even better. He averaged 23.4 points per game, 13.9 rebounds per game, received an All-Star berth and led a 20-game improvement that got Orlando a tiebreaker away from the postseason.
It was the beginning of a four-year stretch that got the city rabidly invested in Magic basketball. It was Shaq's city and it all began with O'Neal coming to Orlando.