Orlando Magic don't want to forget special season with special group

The Orlando Magic's season is more than a week from its end. And even with the disappointment of a Game 7 loss and the outlook of an intriguing summer, no one wants to forget this group.
The Orlando Magic marked their season with togetherness and chemistry that powered them to the Playoffs.
The Orlando Magic marked their season with togetherness and chemistry that powered them to the Playoffs. / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic's season was less than 24 hours from its end following their Game 7 loss in Cleveland for the team's exit interviews. But there did not seem to be any hint of sadness or regret.

The team was not despondent about how close the team came to winning the series. If anything, that thought gave them energy. It made them realize how close they really were and just where they could easily grow as they looked ahead to next season.

The mood for Magic fans in the last week has undoubtedly been one of extreme optimism. With tons of cap room to spend and budding young stars in Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, this team's future feels the brightest it has been since the early days of the Dwight Howard era.

The team finally has direction. Everyone can feel it.

And everyone wants to race ahead to see what that future holds. Everyone is eager to see how this team evolves and develops next season.

But there should be appreciation for this season and for this team. The Magic may spend the next phase of their development trying to copy the feeling, vibes and camaraderie that defined their 2024 season. If the Magic indeed overachieved or exceeded expectations, it was because of how special this specific group was.

"This is a special group," coach Jamahl Mosley said during exit interviews. "This group is tied together, pulling for one another, making sure they are pulling for the next man. This is exactly what you envision a group of young men to be especially in this league where it could be individual. But these guys pull for one another no matter the circumstances are. That's the power and beauty of this group."

That was the overwhelming feeling in the immediate aftermath of the season. There was a lot of pride in the progress the team made and what they showed in the 2024 season. There was a sense that there will be a lot of playoff battles ahead.

But there was also a sense of how special the group was. Franz Wagner said it was a lot of fun coming to work every day and playing with this group. He said how connected the team was would stick with him.

That was a similar feeling throughout the roster. The Magic's superpower was their togetherness and camaraderie. It was an incredibly unique group that had everyone around the league saying the team had college team vibes.

The atmosphere the Magic built was truly something special.

"It was special," veteran forward Joe Ingles said at the team's exit interviews. "It is unique to have a group of guys who genuinely care for each other and want the best for each other and want to see how the guys succeed. Not just off the court, but when you get on the court you can see that. I think it's pretty obvious to see the camaraderie. Not just with the players, but with the coaching staff and everyone. It's unique. It's not like that everywhere."

For a veteran to say that is certainly an endorsement of what the team built. It is an endorsement of the culture the Magic have and how it brought everyone together.

Moe Wagner said throughout the season that the results of this season were not just about this season. It was about three years of work they put together. There was a certain amount of ownership over this team and its outcome.

The team had the same belief in what they were capable of when they lost nine in a row early in the 2023 season as they did when they won nine in a row in November this year.

This season was special in so many ways. The Magic crystallized their identity to finish third in the leauge in defensive rating. They put together wins for the first time in their careers. They all contributed to that success.

It belonged to everyone on the floor and in the organization.

"I think the biggest thing is we were led by committee," Wendell Carter said at the team's exit interviews. "No one cared about stats, minutes, recognition. It was just about winning. The fact that us being such a young team that everyone was able to buy into that was rare. I talk to a lot of guys around the league and they tell me all the different stories of what they're going through with their teams. The fact I am in this situation where 1-15 all just want to win. They don't care how we do it as long as we're winning. That's very rare to find in this league."

The Magic accomplished their goals for the season

Undoubtedly, the season was a success because the Magic accomplished a lot on the court. All the camaraderie and togetherness and chemistry on and off the court would be a nice side story if not for the success the team found on the court.

The Magic entered the season saying they would make the playoffs and laying out their goals. They accomplished almost all of them—only evolving to include a playoff series win when it was clear the Magic would be in playoff position throughout the year.

In the end, the team looked at its seven-game series and saw how close it was to winning and how far it had come. That is why the Magic could look back at their season with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

This season laid out the formula for how the team can be successful and what it will take to build on that success.

"I think this group really has no ceiling," Paolo Banchero said at the team's exit interviews. "I think we have an ultimate belief in each other and what we can do. It took us this far this year. I think another summer of working and improving, everyone having that hunger and motivation, I think we can take it even farther. This is the very start of something special."

The trick for the Magic will be to replicate the togetherness and camaraderie that made this season special. What they had was unique. It will be hard to capture that in a bottle again.

Changes are coming for the Magic

The Magic took some big steps forward this year. But change is inevitable.

The team made the Playoffs but saw many of its weaknesses exposed. The Magic will have to address those in the offseason. That is what everyone is anticipating and watching from this team with ample cap room and a budding star.

What everyone acknowledges is the Magic will have to hope its culture of togetherness and camaraderie persists as they add new players.

"Obviously, it's never the same," Jonathan Isaac said during the team's exit interviews. "That's how the business goes. I love everybody on this team. I wish everybody the best. I hope everything works out and the team is able to stay together as much as possible. But we'll see. We'll reflect and react and come into training camp ready to react. I think the heartbeat of this organization is togetherness and by committee anyway. No matter who is here, they'll be integrated properly and be ready to play."

As much as anything, the Magic will hope they can carry that culture forward with a new group. They will hope that they spent this year not only building the Xs and Os and defense that led to the team's success.

That is something the team will be looking to build. And that is what everyone will remember from this season. It is what made this group special.

It is the part of this team everyone hopes will last.