This Magic Moment

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This Magic Moment

In the late 1980s, the Orlando Magic franchise was one of the new expansion teams on the gridiron. In the NBA it’s always an uphill battle to create a franchise that fans can get behind and the other teams will respect. For these teams every draft pick is vital.

For their first-ever pick, being the 11th in the draft, they picked Nick Anderson, an underrated player whose career took a dive after he missed a few critical shots that cost his teams their games. At the time though he was excellent: the first player to score 50 points coming off the bench. If he had the opportunities he’d stack up the scores at a rapid pace.

Their next star was Denis Scott, AKA 3D: a sharpshooter who has the reputation of making the three-point shooters relevant. Sinking the ball from far away was his only notable skill, but he was so good at it that he was a 4th draft pick.

In 1992 the Orlando Magic team had a stroke of luck that would change their projection entirely. In the 1992 draft pick, they got 1st pick and went with the biggest star in the NBA: Shaquille O’Neal. This 7-foot, 325 pounds (2.1 meters, 147 kilograms) man moved like men half his size and he used his overbearing frame and speed effectively. His power was made legend when he broke the backboard of the basketball hoop in one of his games as part of the Orlando Magic team. After that, the NBA updated their standards to account for men of such strength.

In the next year, against all odds, the Orlando Magic team won the 1st pick of the draft the second year in a row. They were the 11th worst team in the league and became the lowest percentage team to ever win the 1st pick in the draft. Their choice was obvious: Chris Webber, the best player available in the draft that year. Shaq had different ideas, though, and the team made a shocking announcement: They swapped Chris Webber for an unknown player called Anthony (Penny) Hardaway and three future 1st round draft picks.

The fans were not happy, but Hardaway caught Shaq’s attention and he saw the kid’s potential. Their decision seemed to pay fruition for the next season, however, for the duo became an incredible force: Shaq with his power, size and speed, combined with Hardaway’s athleticism and smarts. On and off the field the two followed one success after another and the Orlando Magic seemed to have a great shot at the championship.

Unfortunately, the team’s luck had run out, and not long after the formation of the dream-team, a few key losses plummeted the Orlando Magic out of contention for the championships and out of the spotlight. Not too long after Shaq moved on to a different team and that was the last nail in the coffin of the wily underdogs.

How did such an amazing partnership and forward momentum diminish so drastically? Watch The Magic Moment to find out.

Tuesday at 6 PM on ESPN (ch 248) on 11 August