Posted in Magic
December 20, 2020

How the Magic Came to Orlando

Pat Williams stepped as much as the rostrum to handle the Orlando media. “I’ve acquired excellent news and I’ve acquired dangerous information,” mentioned Williams. “We’re within the chase, however we’re approach behind.” The concept of the Orlando Magic was born within the public’s coronary heart that morning, however the journey had simply begun.

Pat Williams met Jimmy Hewitt in 1984 when Hewitt heard him talking at a operate in Tulsa. By pure serendipity, their paths crossed on the First Presbyterian Church in Orlando a yr later. Williams, in his 11th yr with the Philadelphia 76ers, had heard rumblings of the potential for an NBA enlargement. Whereas mulling over the potential of leaving his place as basic supervisor in an effort to be part of one thing new and thrilling, Pat had begun contemplating places in Florida, particularly Tampa and Miami. When Jimmy heard that Pat was contemplating Tampa or Miami, he mentioned, “The way forward for Florida is right here, Bubba.” Pat was doubtful, particularly as a result of Orlando’s enviornment was nonetheless solely in its blue print stage. Nonetheless, he was satisfied by Jimmy and Mayor Invoice Frederick that the Area could possibly be quick tracked if there was a risk of getting a professions sports activities crew in Orlando. Pat flew from the airport with the rising perception that Orlando is likely to be prepared for the NBA.

All that must wait as Pat Williams was nonetheless beneath contract to run the 76ers within the 1985-1986 season. With Coach Matt Guokas, a reputation each Magic fan is acquainted with, and a star-studded lineup that includes Moses Malone, a younger Charles Barkley, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Maurice Cheeks, Williams knew he had a superb likelihood at one other title run. Sadly, their shot a championship ended when Dr. J missed a final second shot in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks within the sport 7 of the Semi-Convention Finals. Even if the 76ers had the primary first spherical decide and an excellent group of gamers, Williams knew it was time emigrate south.

Pat Williams flew to Orlando and met with Jimmy Hewitt and Tip Lifvendahl, the editor of the Orlando Sentinel. The following morning the primary story broke within the Orlando Sentinel that Pat Williams was changing into the pied piper for an NBA franchise in Orlando. A number of days later, Pat referred to as the pivotal press convention on the Expo Centre. He introduced that Orlando was going to foyer to affix the NBA by means of the rumored enlargement. The opposite groups within the working at that time had been Charlotte, Minneapolis, and Miami. Pat introduced that they might start taking $100-per-year season ticket deposits for as much as three years. Tip Lifvendahl got here as much as Williams afterwards and mentioned, “Put us down for 100 tickets and a skybox.” The following morning, Jimmy went all the way down to the put up workplace to verify the P.O. Field and located it empty, besides a small observe that mentioned to talk to a clerk. He approached the desk and was instructed to attend a second. The clerk disappeared, and shortly returned with over 400 letters stuffed with pledges.

Subsequently, this press convention sparked the primary little bit of controversy in what can be an extended and heated rivalry with Miami. Pat Williams was requested what he thought of Miami additionally chasing a franchise and the competitors which may come up. Williams answered again, “I feel everyone knows the issues Miami has.” The following morning, the Miami Herald ran the story with the headline, “Orlando Enters Chase, Williams Blasts Miami.” Identical to that, the rivalry that Williams refers to because the “Grapefruit Wall” had begun.

One of the vital integral steps in making a sports activities franchise is devising a reputation that’s consultant of the town. The Orlando Sentinel ran a contest, urging members of the Central Florida group to ship of their finest options. Nearly four,000 totally different names had been submitted inside a few days. 4 finalist names had been chosen as finalists: Tropics, Juice, Warmth and Magic. “Tropics” was eradicated as a result of it is not geographically correct for Orlando. “Juice” was discarded as a result of the citrus business was having a horrific yr. “Warmth” was dismissed as a result of it was deemed to be certainly one of these least embraceable sides of dwelling in Florida. Williams approached Disney to be sure that there would not be any battle over the title choice. Disney permitted and the remainder is historical past.

On July 2nd, 1986, Williams, Hewitt, state Sen. George Stuart, and Mayor Frederick traveled to New York Metropolis to satisfy with David Stern. As they offered their deposit verify of $100,000 for the official utility reporters had been current to snap photos. Williams reached behind his again and plopped a giant pair of Mickey Mouse ears on David Stern’s head. Fast as a whip, Stern eliminated the hat earlier than any photos could possibly be taken. Williams had a second pair ready and seized the chance once more, this time photos had been taken earlier than David Stern had an opportunity to take away it. Inside hours these pictures had been printed nationally.

The Orlando Magic had formally put their hat within the ring. The sector was being fast-tracked and the residents of Central Florida had been buzzing with pleasure about the potential of having their first native skilled sports activities franchise. The following step was making a brand and uniforms. Enter Doug Minear. Doug created the enduring brand with the phrases “Orlando Magic” sprawled throughout a black backdrop with a path of stars behind a basketball. Initially the colours getting used had been black and yellow, however they confirmed up on the poorest on a basketball courtroom and had been deemed to be too much like UCF’s black and gold. The top consequence was the Magic blue, quicksilver, and midnight black.

By this level, two extra teams had entered the enlargement race: Toronto and Anaheim. Representatives from the six cities had been scheduled to satisfy in Phoenix on October 19th, 1986 to pitch their instances to the NBA entrance workplace and the homeowners of the present groups. The morning after the assembly the board conferred and referred to as all of the representatives right into a room for the assembly. It was introduced that an enlargement committee was being fashioned and that it had been determined that as much as three groups can be included. One reporter, Bob Ryan, later referred to this as “a very powerful non-game occasions within the historical past of the NBA.” Among the many hoopla, Lewis Schaffel, basic supervisor of the Miami Warmth referred to as Orlando a “second-rate metropolis” and questioned the integrity of the ticket depend in Orlando. He later apologized, however the rigidity was already palpable and a rivalry was ballooning earlier than the groups ever met on the heart circle.

Two months later, on December 18th, all of the groups had been instructed to satisfy in New York on the NBA’s headquarters. David Stern introduced that two groups had been eradicated from the race: Anaheim and Toronto. They had been additionally instructed that the enlargement price had expanded from $20 million to an exorbitant $32.5 million. Up till that point, the Orlando Magic possession construction had been based mostly round quite a lot of smaller, minority buyers after which just a few basic companions. Folks with behind the scenes data had been telling Williams that the NBA homeowners did not like that construction and that it could possibly be a killing level for his or her possibilities at being chosen. Williams approached Disney CEO, Michael Eisner. Disney initially permitted the possession beneath a sequence of provisos:

Disney would retain 20% possession, however would put no cash up. As a substitute they might request that the NBA drop the $32.5 million greenback price by 20%.
Disney would design all logos, uniforms, and merchandise.
Disney might use their characters for promotion on the enviornment.
A “sporty” model of Goofy can be the secondary everlasting mascot.
Full rights because the Magic’s promoting company.
Promotion of Magic/Disney ticket packages, full with floor transportation from the resorts and to be promoted on the Disney Channel.

David Stern vetoed the concept as a result of it was deemed unfair to drop the speed for one crew, and never the others. That is when William du Pont III stepped as much as the plate.

Initially one of many minority homeowners, Pat Williams approached du Pont to ask him if he can be all in favour of stepping up from minority accomplice to basic accomplice. Understanding the gravity of the state of affairs, du Pont agreed. Later, it was revealed that the NBA did not need Williams to be concerned as an proprietor and a basic supervisor and that the board nonetheless needed a majority working supervisor. Pat Williams relinquished all of his shares, and Jimmy Hewitt, who can simply be accredited because the second most pivotal individual in carry a franchise to the town, dropped the vast majority of his shares to grow to be a minority proprietor. The Orlando Magic had their first Managing Basic Companion in William du Pont III.

On March 2nd, 1987 the NBA Enlargement committee visited Orlando. It was made very clear that they did not need the media to catch wind of their arrival, as a result of they did not wish to see a staged response from Orlando. After touring the Area building web site they had been confronted exterior by protesters. The committee members had been hurried into vehicles, however they had been adopted by a pickup truck stuffed with indignant protesters. The van driver gunned it throughout Colonial and down Edgewater Drive in School Park, finally dropping their pursuers. Regardless of the chaotic incident, the members gave the impression to be genuinely impressed with the progress Orlando was making with the development of the Area and with their superior ticket gross sales.

One of the vital pivotal moments throughout this enlargement interval got here in April of 1987 in New York Metropolis. All the groups had been gathered and instructed resolution had been made. Representatives from the groups awaited the information whereas David Stern, the homeowners, and all the members of the Enlargement Committee convened. Throughout their assembly, an argument in regards to the placement of groups in particular divisions arose. The problem is that enlargement groups start with a decrease caliber of expertise and due to this fact typically preserve dropping data for his or her first few seasons. This locations their division rivals in a positive state of affairs, as a result of they’ve a complete of 4 video games in opposition to a a lot weaker opponent. Subsequently any crew in a division with an Enlargement crew has a definite benefit. Gary Bettman, the league counselor, got here up with a plan that’s merely known as “The Bettman Plan.” The concept behind this plan is that every Enlargement crew will rotate between totally different conferences and divisions within the first three years, after which the divisions might be shifted to make sense geographically. The preliminary settlement positioned the Magic within the Central Division of their first yr, the Midwest division within the 2nd yr, and the Atlantic division for its third yr. After their assembly they addressed all the groups individually, notifying them that every one 4 groups can be admitted, so long as they maintained sure standards, the 10,000 ticket pre sale being tantamount. The one dangerous information that got here from this assembly was that the Magic would begin in 1989 with Minneapolis, whereas Miami and Charlotte would start a yr earlier than.

That night at Church Avenue Station, Bob Snow threw an infinite celebration with loads of reside TV and radio protection. Pat Williams and Jimmy Hewitt wore T-shirts that mentioned “WE BELIEVE IN MAGIC!” Orlando had formally claimed an expert sports activities crew, so long as they may preserve curiosity and promote 10,000 tickets and full building of the Area on time.

The Area’s building had been quick tracked and it was time to decide on a reputation for the complicated. Many names had been thought of and rejected. Finally, it was determined that a lot of the names had been too chichi. The title that caught was the Orlando Area. Having a look again, there have been some fairly fascinating contenders for the title, together with:

The Alpha
The Omega
The Extremely
Magic Palace
The Cauldron
The Quest
The Centro
The Grove
The Podium
The Orlandome
The Orbit
The Centrum (the constructing’s working title when it was initially proposed within the 1960s)

Every little thing was lastly coming collectively and it was time to employees up. Pat Williams approached Matt Guokas, with whom he had labored with for a few years in Philadelphia. Guokas had been the top coach through the 76ers championship run within the 1982-1983 season. Matt visited Orlando and once more the Magic representatives needed to defend him from the over-aggressive media. He stayed at Danny Durso’s home. At one level, they visited the UCF enviornment and darted out of a again door after they noticed that UCF assistant coach, Eric Dennis was on the courtroom taking pictures baskets. Regardless of most likely being a bit uncomfortable with all the cloak and dagger antics, Goukas finally did settle for the job to grow to be the primary Head Coach of the Orlando Magic franchise. Pat Williams arrange a press convention to introduce him to the general public in his new function for the primary time, however sadly Williams forgot to verify with Guokas to ensure he might make it. It turned out that Matt Guokas was purported to attend his nephew’s commencement and wasn’t the time to overlook an engagement that he had promised to attend. So Pat took a bit beating from the press when he launched a coach who was neither current, nor had ready a written assertion of acceptance. The following morning, at a subsequent press convention, Guokas confirmed and formally introduced his new place to an appeased gathering of the native media. Ex-San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Bobby Weiss can be named because the Magic’s first ever assistant coach. Getting a coach of his caliber as an assistant was an unbelievable stroke of luck. He really seemed to be the front-runner on the time for the Minneapolis Head Teaching place.

All through the course of all these occasions, an ominous deadline was looming. Stories had been coming in that all the different cities had been struggling to satisfy their 10,000 ticket quota. With eight weeks till their deadline, Miami was solely at 7,500 tickets offered. The Magic had been faring a bit higher, however had been struggling to gather the remainder of the cash owed from those that had secured their seats with the preliminary deposits. The costs on seats had been extraordinarily aggressive for the time. Common seats ranged from $344 per season to $1,395 for the prime seats. Skyboxes had been priced at $45,000 for the primary three years, and $50,000 for the next two years. With time working out the Magic had reached a degree the place they wanted to safe over 100 tickets a day for the final couple of months. A letter was despatched out, primarily telling those that their tickets had been cancelled. This despatched folks right into a frenzy of apologies and resulted in a flurry of checks flooding the Orlando Magic head workplace. With 9 days to go, Greg Wallace of Bug Hut, an auto restore store, got here into the workplace and acquired the final eight season tickets to grow to be the 10,000th ticket purchaser.

With the brand designed it was time to create a mascot. Fairly just a few concepts had been tossed round. This is just a few that by no means made it:

A magic bean with a giant star on its torso
A rabbit with a cape and a magician’s high hat
A tourist-looking character with stars for eyes, a wizard’s cap, quick shorts, and a star studded t-shirt.
A humorous wanting character that was a cross between a wizard and a ringmaster
A Muppet-like character that had palm tree leaves protruding of the highest of his head.
A cat dribbling a ball with star-studded shorts (appeared quite a bit like Simba from the Lion King)

One of many designs on this batch was a rudimentary model of what would grow to be Stuff. Initially, he was purported to be purple. Nonetheless, it turned obvious that he intently resembled a Disney character named Figment that was used at Epcot. His design and colour had been finally adjusted to create the loveable, inexperienced dragon that everyone knows at present. He was first launched on Halloween in 1988 at Church Avenue Station. Main as much as this momentous event, there was a giant marketing campaign together with unusual footprints main from the world to a large, damaged eggshell. Additionally, there have been every kind of reported “sightings” round city. The media actually ran with the marketing campaign and turned the disclosing into an enormous occasions. Even USA Right now, reported on it. Dave Raymond, the man contained in the Philly Phanatic, was employed to play Stuff for a one time look. Two native magicians, Giovanni and Tim, placed on the whole present. Curly Neal started by performing methods to get the gang warmed up. Giovanni and Tim then put him into a large field that was hooked up to a pole. The pole lifted up and because it reached its pinnacle, Stuff leaped out of the field and ceaselessly into the creativeness of Orlando’s loyal fan base.

Excessive octane sporting occasions all have just a few issues in widespread: screaming followers, jock jams, and cheerleaders. With the intention to create the required degree of showmanship and pleasure on the Orlando Area, it was crucial that an unbelievable squad of native expertise be assembled. Jodie Pennington was a choreographer for the FSU Golden Ladies. She was finally employed to grow to be the top of the primary ever Magic Ladies. Tryouts had been held within the fall of 1988 and acquired big press protection. Sixteen women had been chosen to the primary ever Magic Squad at an occasion at evening membership, J.J. Whispers, that fifteen hundred folks attended. The Orlando Magic ran an enormous, colour picture of the women two mornings later.

The pinstripe is likely one of the most recognizable symbols of the Magic’s historical past. Even years after the pinstripe had stopped being the first design of the Orlando Magic’s uniform; probably the most famend on-line Magic boards was titled “Orlando Pinstriped Put up”. Each true Magic fan has bled Black and White pinstripes for over 20 years. Initially the design was discarded as a result of on the time it wasn’t doable to print the pinstripe on a fabric skinny sufficient to be snug for an NBA participant. Nonetheless, an outdated materials referred to as Durene was discovered to be completely suited to the duty, and over the course of a yr, the uniforms had been designed and created. They had been unveiled to the general public on the Omni resort on October 21st, 1988 with the media current because the Dr. Phillips Excessive Faculty Band performed because the newly assembled Magic Ladies cheered on.

Sadly, the Magic do should play half of their video games on the street, so the following large step was to discover a community that might carry all of Orlando’s video games. The 2 main stations competing had been the Sunshine Community and SportsChannel Florida. The Sunshine Community already reached 1.5 million properties, whereas SportsChannel Florida reached solely 200,000. Nonetheless, SportsChannel Florida already had unique rights to the Florida Gators and the Miami Warmth. After powerful negotiations, it was determined that the Orlando Magic needed to have their very own station, separate from their basketball rivals from southern Florida. Sunshine Community turned the unique cable supplier for the Orlando Magic native market.

“Have footwear, will journey!” This was the advert that legendary basketball star Darryl Dawkins positioned within the Orlando Sentinel when he introduced that he was going to come back play in summer time apply camps in 1988. He had really ended a press convention the season earlier than by saying, “Pat Williams get my contract prepared! And make it large!” One of the vital colourful characters within the historical past of the NBA, Darryl wasn’t precisely recognized on the time for being humble or magnanimous. Nonetheless, he was a improbable athlete and a particular crowd stopper, having shattered just a few backboards in his time. Additionally, he had been drafted by none apart from Pat Williams in 1975 (the primary participant ever to be drafted to the NBA straight out of highschool), so a optimistic relationship existed. He confirmed as much as the primary rookie apply on the UCF enviornment and left thirty minutes later, saying he would not threat getting harm with out the peace of mind that he already had a roster spot. That offered an issue since they needed to see him play to see in the event that they needed so as to add him to their roster. He no-showed for a second assembly, and the weird Daryl Dawkins saga ended as abruptly because it started.

Each piece was in place and each duck was so as. It was time for the enlargement draft. June 15th 1989, representatives from Minneapolis and Orlando meet in New York in a closed session. An NBA consultant, Gary Bettman, carried out the assembly by means of a convention name, and introduced that every crew can be supplied 5 minutes for every decide. It turned out that each groups wanted far much less time than that, on account of in depth scouting. Representing the Orlando Magic was proprietor Invoice du Pont, Basic Supervisor Pat Williams, Legal professional Robert Fraley, their assistant Rick Neal, and publicity man, a younger Alex Martins. Previous to this assembly the Orlando Magic had reached an settlement to signal Jeff Turner, who had performed the earlier two seasons in Italy. The principles of an Enlargement Draft are comparatively easy. Every present crew is allowed to guard eight gamers from their roster. Any uncovered gamers can be found for choice. Listed under are the outcomes of the 1989 Enlargement Draft:


Sidney Inexperienced (Knicks)
Reggie Theus (Hawks)
Terry Catledge (Bullets)
Sam Vincent (Bulls)
Otis Smith (Warriors)
Scott Skiles (Pacers)
Jerry Reynolds (Sonics)
Mark Acres (Celtics)
Morlon Wiley (Mavericks)
Jim Farmer (Jazz)
Keith Lee (Nets)
Frank Jonson (Rockets)

Rick Mahorn (Pistons)
Tyrone Corbin (Suns)
Steve Johnson (Blazers)
Brad Lohaus (Kings)
David Rivers (Lakers)
Mark Davis (Bucks)
Scott Roth (Spurs)
Shelton Jones (Sixers)
Eric White (Clippers)
Maurice Martin (Nuggets)
Gunther Behnke (Cavaliers)

The Orlando Magic’s first roster was assembled. Jeff Turner would be a part of the crew as effectively and that solely left two spots left, to be crammed within the Magic’s first ever NBA Draft.

June 27th, 1989. The Magic had been prepared for the NBA Draft, however there was an issue. They did not really feel like they’d a serviceable beginning heart on their roster. They had been scrambling to attempt to discover one, however there wasn’t any good choices out there at their quantity eleven decide within the first spherical. The GM of the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Krause, had provided Dave Corzine for 2 future 2nd spherical draft picks. Sadly, there was a contingency hooked up. The Bulls would solely do the commerce in the event that they had been capable of obtain J.R. Reid, Danny Ferry, Pervis Ellison, or Stacey King with their quantity six decide within the first spherical. The draft started and the primary two picks had been Pervis Ellisson and Danny Ferry, which result in an insufferable rigidity among the many Magic entrance workplace. Because the minutes dragged by, it was starting to appear to be the commerce may disappear as shortly because it had begun. San Antonio and Miami owned the following two picks and in a stroke of luck for the Orlando Magic they selected Sean Elliot and Glen Rice, respectively. The Bulls selected Stacey King, and the commerce was secured. Now it was time for the Magic to concentrate on their first ever draft decide. Their scouting had them extraordinarily enthusiastic about one explicit participant out of Illinois. This was an enormous second. This choice was their first shot at getting a younger participant that would actually make a long run affect on the crew. With the quantity eleven general decide within the 1989 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select…

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