Pinstriped Party

The schedule is set. The roster is set (for the most part). Now, maybe the fans’ most anticipated portion of pre-season is set. The 20th anniversary Orlando Magic jerseys have been unveiled.

Tuesday, September 23rd marked the release of the fourth ever Orlando Magic jersey redesign. The unveiling capped a 20 year evolution from the original Magic jersey, which was black with white pinstripes.

Billy and Jonne Sparrow, both 60 and from Oveido, Fla., were two of the fans whom lined up outside the doors of the Cheyenne Saloon at Church Street Station in downtown Orlando. They have been fans since the early days of the Orlando Magic and were here for the 15th anniversary five years ago. Still, the anticipation was high enough for them to come out to the Saloon and participate in the celebration.

“We’ve talked to several people and we’re all just excited to see the new jersey,” said Jonne. “Since I have all of the other jerseys autographed, this will be another one that I can add to my collection. We’ve been here for a long time, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The doors opened at about 11:45 a.m. and fans began to pile into the Saloon and around the stage. By noon, there were approximately 50-70 fans on hand. Dave Guebara, 25 years old and from Orlando, was one fan who couldn’t hold back his hopes of what the new jerseys would look like.

“I’m hoping for the pinstripes like the old school jerseys,” he said. “But we’ll see. I like the pinstriped and maybe it’ll bring good luck to us from the ’94-95 teams.”

After another hour passed and 1:00 p.m. approached, the crowd had ballooned to around 250 fans eyeballing the stage.

On that stage, set back about seven feet, a black curtain was hung as a barrier between the fans and the players scheduled to model the four models of jerseys. Behind that curtain, Nick Anderson, Bo Outlaw, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Magic COO Alex Martins and team President Bob Vander Weide all mingled with each other and got their first looks at the new jerseys.

“I actually first saw the jersey today, so they (the fans) are seeing it the same day we did,” Lewis said. Waiting for his turn to model the team’s third jersey redesign, he went on to joke, “We didn’t have any more leeway than the fans with this one!”

But he didn’t lose track of why he was there and what the day was really all about.

“The fans are the most important thing,” he said. “The fans are the key to us succeeding and we know we’re doing this for them. We know what the jerseys are going to look like now, but this is more for the fans of Orlando.”

At 1:02 p.m., the fans got the show they had long awaited. Orlando Magic official emcee Scotty-B took the stage and quickly got to business. First, he introduced Nick Anderson to the crowd as the Magic Man popped out from behind the curtain wearing the original black pinstriped jersey.

He, too, couldn’t help himself from acknowledging the huge crowd of fans and their dedication to the team.

“As you know, you have some farewell fans around,” Anderson said as he spoke to the crowd from the stage. “But, as you can see, these are the true fans right here.”

The crowd exploded in cheers as Anderson stepped aside as the next player, Bo Outlaw, made his way to the stage sporting the 1998-2002 blue Dazzle jersey. He was soon followed by Rashard Lewis, who entered the stage wearing the Adidas white Play Dry jersey, which was worn through last season. He took this opportunity to speak to the crowd about bringing a championship to Orlando.

When asked what he was looking forward to this 20th anniversary season, Lewis put it simply, drawing some of the loudest cheers of the day when he said, “We’re looking forward winning an NBA championship.”

After Lewis stepped aside, Scotty-B directed the crowd’s attention to the Magic Vision screen located above the stage. A movie trailer played, again noting the 20 year evolution of the jersey. Anderson, Outlaw and Lewis all stood at the edge of the stage in order to watch the video that even they had never seen before. After showing the first three jerseys, the screen then read, one word at a time, “Now - Something – New - Is - Coming,” followed by a shadowed Dwight Howard spinning a ball on his finger.

At that time, the Superman theme song kicked in and Scotty-B announced gold medal-winning Dwight Howard’s name. He emerged from the black curtain fully clothed in his warm-ups and quickly took the microphone, asking fans how badly they wanted to see the new jersey. As their cheers grew louder and louder, he pulled off the top half of the warm-up and revealed the 20th anniversary jersey.

The reaction from the crowd was loud, as they got the very first look at the latest chapter in the Magic uniform history. Howard rose his arms, twisting in circles and dancing from end to end on the stage while showing the crowd the brand new road jersey.

Magic blue decorates the majority of the jersey, with white pinstripes running from the bottom and widening as they pass the underarm and reach the shoulder. A black stripe also runs from the underarm down to the hip along each side of the jersey with a thin white trim. A 20th Anniversary patch is located on the right shoulder. On the opposite shoulder is the NBA logo, and written across the chest is “ORLANDO” in white lettering with silver and black trim.

Just minutes after Howard did his dancing and spoke to the crowd, Mayor Buddy Dyer took the stage and was given a commemorative home jersey by Howard. The home jersey is an exact replica to the road jersey, with the blue and white portions inverted. So, the majority of the home jersey is white with blue trim and lettering.

Mayor Dyer gracefully accepted the jersey and tossed it on over his faint-blue dress shirt. After raising his arms to the crowd, he turned the party in a different direction. This was the moment he had been waiting for since Howard had returned home from the Beijing Olympics.

Magic Dancers Heather and Trinity appeared from behind the black curtain with a large box in hand. As they opened it, Mayor Dyer announced that this box held the key to the city, which was being awarded to Dwight Howard for his hard work. But that wasn’t his only surprise. As he noted the when he whispered into a recorder prior to the event’s kickoff, this day would be unlike any Howard had ever experienced.

“We’re honoring Dwight today and we’re proclaiming today Dwight Howard Day here in Orlando,” Mayor Dyer said. “It’s great recognition for the Orlando Magic, the city of Orlando and the entire Central Florida community that he could bring the gold home to us.”

On stage, Mayor Dyer read a proclamation to the crowd, citing all of the good Howard has done for the community and the game of basketball in the recent past. Howard, standing shocked on stage, thanked the Mayor and the crowd for their support as STUFF dangled the key in his face.

STUFF then hopped around stage to assist in another presentation, this time to a fan. Mayor Dyer pulled one lucky fan’s name and called him to the stage to accept the first official 20th anniversary jersey given to the public. When that fan’s name was called, his scream could be heard from the front entrance of the Saloon and he sprinted to the stage to accept his new jersey.

After he and STUFF bounced around stage and the players and Mayor exchanged some more words, Scotty-B announced the conclusion of the event. Immediately following his last words, merchandise tables were open donning the brand new jerseys for sale. Fans rushed to the tables, excited to be some of the first to own the new Magic-wear.

One of the first fans to purchase the jersey was Amaury Suarez, 43 of Orlando. He purposely wore a special jersey to the party celebrating 20 years of Magic basketball. This was just another one to add to his collection.

“Well, this jersey has ’89 on it, which was the first season for the Orlando Magic 20 years ago,” Suarez said. “I got it as a gift. One of my cousins gave it to me for my birthday because he knew that I was a big Magic fan. And I just kept it and always said that one day this jersey is going to mean something, and today it did. You know, ’89, 20 years ago we started a new franchise here in Orlando and I hope that we stay together for a hundred years more.”

Speaking of the new jersey, he went on to say, “I think it’s just beautiful. I already got mine. I think the pinstripes are the most important thing to the franchise and I’m glad they brought them back. I already bought it and I’m just looking forward to the season starting.”

His optimism for another 100 seasons here in Orlando may not be answered for a while, but the hope that he and many other fans had coming into today’s event were answered when Howard took that warm-up jersey off this afternoon.

Magic fans around the world, you’ve got your pinstripes back!