The Orlando Magic organization received a nice boost Wednesday, as they unveiled the two people who will be going into their Magic Hall of Fame first. What, did you think there’d be any sort of good news to come from actual on court play? Orlando are playing the Brooklyn Nets twice and Washington Wizards over the course of their next three games, so there is unlikely to be anything to smile about there anytime soon. Getting back to the enshrinement stuff though, the two people selected first to go into this Hall of Fame to celebrate the Magic’s 25 years in existence are Nick Anderson and Pat Williams.
A word first on Williams, because without him this franchise wouldn’t exist. It was he who got the ball rolling to have a basketball team in the Central Florida area, and we should all be thankful for that. While that other team in the state may get all the headlines these days, the pinstriped blue were here first, and that is to be celebrated as well. It is the induction of Nick Anderson though, which got me to thinking about something else altogether. Anderson, the Magic’s first-ever draft pick, is the all-time leader in many statistical categories for this team, including games played (692), minutes played (22,440), steals (1,004) and field goals made (4,075). Before this season he was also the only player to ever spend 10 seasons in a Magic uniform, a feat that was also achieved by Jameer Nelson this year. Anderson was part of the team that got all the way to the 1995 NBA Finals, beating the recently returned Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls along the way. His honoring is warranted and deserved, but let’s have a little fun with this and take the conversation in another direction. After all, there’s only so much talking about this current team and their road woes and potential that one person can talk about and others can read.
Putting it simply, if you could bring one past Magic player back in a time machine to play for this team, who would it be? Although this franchise is still relatively young, it has housed some absolute superstars in it’s time. The first two names that come to mind are that of the two dominant centers who were adored the most by Magic fans, but who both ultimately walked away and broke all of their hearts. We are talking of course about Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard and putting all bad blood aside, most fans would probably plump for one of those two to come back to this team. This current Orlando outfit are young, athletic and lacking a true inside anchor, although Nikola Vucevic is trying his best. Sticking one of those two larger than life centers into this team would surely propel them back to the playoffs. Others out there might go for a player they feel could have contributed more given more time like Steve Francis. Additional players and fan favorites such as Vince Carter and Mike Miller have to be considered too. For me personally though, one other intrigues me more than anybody else.
Personal favorites of mine, including Horace Grant and Dennis Scott, were considered. After all, Grant could have been just the type of grizzled player this team needs to get better, while Scott was a pure scorer which is something this team is lacking in. Me though, I’m going with the one they called “Penny.” Anfernee Hardaway had all the potential to go down as one of the greatest guards to ever play the game, although we all know it didn’t end up going that way. If not for injury, though, this guy could have led the Magic all the way to the promised land multiple times, he was that good. His sharp and sad decline is a cautionary tale that injury is capable of robbing anybody of their talents at any moment, and Hardaway surely comes to mind when people ponder if the likes of Derrick Rose can ever be the same player again. In his six seasons with the Magic, which included one Finals appearance, Penny averaged 19 points, 6.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He was a do-it-all kind of player who excited fans young and old alike. Nobody truly knows what the ‘it’ factor is, but whatever it entails, Hardaway had it. Seeing him out on the floor in his prime and injury free with the youthful team of today would be so exciting. As mentioned, this Magic team struggles offensively, and Hardaway would give them a big life there. More than that though he was a well rounded player who was all over the highlight reel on any given night too.
Right now is a time of celebration for this Magic franchise, so why not take a look back at all the good times that have gone by and choose one player who you would slide into this current roster. The next couple of years will likely lead to minimal playoff success and nothing more at the very most, so taking a moment to acknowledge the past is something that is not only allowed, it is encouraged. So if you could bring one of the previous greats from this team’s history back, who would it be and why? The more personal it is to you the better!