Denton: Crowd Support Was Superb This Season in Orlando
By John Denton
April 15, 2013
ORLANDO – Success hasn’t always been there for the Orlando Magic this season at the Amway Center, but the team’s loyal fan base has been there consistently.
Despite the Magic suffering through their worst season in nine years and about to miss the playoffs for the first time in six years – snapping the longest such streak in the Eastern Conference – Magic fans have continued to come out in droves to support a team in transition.
Despite the 20-60 record, Orlando still ranks 15th in the NBA in home attendance at 17,602 fans a night. To put that into perspective, Orlando’s average home attendance is better than that of six teams headed to the playoffs – Atlanta, Brooklyn, Houston, Indiana, Memphis and Milwaukee.
``Unbelievable support and it’s just been overwhelming throughout the course of the year,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``We’ve always talked about with each opportunity trying to put a product on the floor that our fans could be proud of. Boy, are we extremely proud of their support. We know it’s going to continue and we’re going to continue to try and put a product on the floor that they will be proud of.’’
When the Magic host the Chicago Bulls tonight, it will be the final home game of the regular season and ``Fan Appreciation Night.’’ Fourteen season-ticket holders and 14 Community Partners will receive authentic autographed jerseys from the Magic players. Fans can get merchandise 40 percent off, while a hot dog and soda combination will be $5. And veteran point guard Jameer Nelson will address the crowd and express his appreciation for the support.
``There has been a lot of energy in the building all season,’’ said Nelson, who remains out with a sprained ankle. ``The (March 12) game against the Lakers was amazing with the atmosphere that the fans brought in. The commitment that they brought in has backed up. It’s been a tough year for everybody, a different year for myself and most of the fans who have been here nine years in terms of my career. We just appreciate them being there for us, making the commitment and staying with us.’’
Magic fans have certainly stayed strong in their numbers this season. Amway Center was site to three crowds of more than 19,000 fans, including 19,311 on Dec. 31 when the largest crowd to ever watch a basketball game in Orlando took in the Magic and Heat. Another 19,287 packed the Amway Center on Dec. 12 to mostly boo former Magic center Dwight Howward, who made his return with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Magic head into tonight’s home finale with nine sellouts on the season and 31 games that drew at least 17,000 fans. Only nine times all season did the announced attendance dip below 17,000 – quite a fan base feat for a Magic team with a gaggle of young players in a rebuilding phase.
``I’m thinking about giving them a show,’’ Magic forward Tobias Harris said of his mindset heading into the final home game. ``I want to give them the energy that they always bring. Hopefully, we can leave out with a win since it’s our last home game. The fans deserve that and we deserve to give them that, also.’’
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