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A Peek Inside "Making Magic"

July 20, 2011

ORLANDO -- If you have not had the opportunity to explore Pat Williams’ book, Making Magic: How Orlando Won An NBA Team, I suggest you add it to your ‘must-read’ list.

Filled with so many interesting details, including how the city of Orlando first joined the discussion as a possible destination for an NBA expansion team and how the Magic-Heat rivalry wasted no time in creating newspaper headlines around the Sunshine State, Williams’ book is a guide to greater knowledge for any Magic fan.

Periodically, will provide excerpts from the book to help explain how and why certain things were devised, created and applied regarding the Magic franchise.

It’s always fascinating to learn where pioneers were and who they were with when something significant was discovered or at least brainstormed.

In Williams’ book, he cites the conversation and location he was at when Orlando was first mentioned as a prospective landing spot for an NBA team:

After the final session of the sports that afternoon, John Tolson and Jimmy Hewitt offered another airport ride. Orlando seemed a nice, growing little community but there was no real skyline in 1985. No Du Pont Plaza, no SunBank Center. Orlando was not part of my simmering notion of a Florida NBA franchise.

As we settled into Jimmy’s car I asked if pro basketball would fly in Florida. They thought for a moment and agreed it would.

“Yea but where would you put the franchise?” I asked. “Tampa or Miami?”

They stiffened and gasped as if I’d just spilled a pitcher of Kool-Aid down their skivvies. Jimmy, behind the wheel, and John, in the back seat, caught one another’s eyes in the rear-view mirror. They blinked in disbelief.

“Neither place. Here. The future of Florida is here,” they blurted, almost in unison.

“You really believe that?” I challenged.

“Without question, Bubba."

I mentioned the expansion talk around the NBA and suggested that if they thought Orlando would be receptive, they’d better get working on it.

If I needed a sign, I got it after a December speaking engagement in Orlando. I had a remarkable call from a friend named Bill Gaither, the Babe Ruth of gospel singers. He said his fantasy was to get into my business – to own and run a pro basketball team.

I said, “Bill, if you could pick any place in the country, where would you put your team?”

Without hesitation he said, “Orlando, Florida.”

I was just dumbfounded. I asked why. He said of all the places he and his group traveled around the country, they got the best reception and felt the most electricity in Orlando.

For more biographical information on Williams and how you can own a copy of any of his books, go to his official web site,