Hall of Fame Will Immortalize Magic Legends

Hall of Fame

By John Denton
April 9, 2014

ORLANDO – Overjoyed with how well-received the franchise’s ``Legends Nights’’ celebrations have gone throughout this 25th anniversary season Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins wanted something more permanent and honorary to celebrate the team’s rich history.

Hence the creation of the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame and Wednesday’s induction of founding father Pat Williams and first draft pick Nick Anderson as the inaugural class. Honorary pedestals for Williams and Anderson were installed at the Nutrilite Fan Experience area of the Amway Center where fans attending games can enjoy them and reflect on the team’s many influential players, coaches and executives.

Martins said on Wednesday the purpose of the Hall of Fame is to immortalize those who have made significant contributions to the franchise’s success. He said the Magic will induct a class into their Hall of Fame annually and it will be chosen by an internal committee.

Martins said some of the factors that will be used to determine Hall worthiness will be a person’s impact and importance to the franchise, their off-the-court impact to those in the Central Florida community, their years of service and their contributions to the on-court success of the franchise. He added that April is the time of year that the Magic ``would focus on’’ for the Hall inductions each year and the size of each class could fluctuate from year to year.

Martins said the creation of the Hall of Fame will allow the Magic to celebrate their illustrious history as the franchise embarks on its next 25 years in existence in Orlando.

``For the last couple of years we’ve been focused on trying to embrace our former players and our history and we came to a natural intersection here at our 25-year anniversary of the team to do something beyond just recognizing those who have made contributions,’’ Martins said. ``We wanted to do something permanent and something that would last throughout all of time. Then, at our 50-year anniversary fans can come here and learn about Nick Anderson and Pat Williams, who started this franchise. We wanted something that would stand throughout time to recognize those who have helped make this franchise what it is today.’’

Throughout this season, the Magic have brought back star players such as Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, Horace Grant, Grant Hill and Darrell Armstrong to honor their contributions to the franchise. Shaquille O’Neal, who starred with the Magic from 1992-96, has been repeatedly invited to have his own night of recognition, but he’s been unable to fit it into his schedule.

Orlando has also shown video tributes of active NBA players and coaches on other rosters to honor their time in Orlando. Even though his exit from Orlando was a contentious one in 2012, the Magic took the high road by showing a highlight video of Houston center Dwight Howard – Orlando’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots – back in March.

Hardaway, McGrady and Hill were booed in years past because of their somewhat messy exits from Orlando, but all three received rousing ovations from Amway Center crowds upon coming back this season. Martins, who has greeted each player at midcourt during the ceremonies, was delighted to see how Magic fans have welcomed back some of the great players in franchise history. Those moments told Martins that Magic fans are proud of the all-star players who have donned Magic uniforms and they savor the team’s many successes.

``It’s exceeded every expectation that we could have ever hoped for,’’ Martins said. ``When you envision something like this and plan and talk to the individuals about it … look, there was some trepidation on some of our former player’s parts and how they would be received. But to stand up there on Opening Night and see the emotion on Tracy McGrady’s face, and the emotion that Penny Hardaway had when he was center court, it was special. Both of them said to me, `I didn’t know what the reception was going to be like.’ But I think it’s exceeded all of our expectations and I’m gratified to see that our fans really embrace our former players and our history. That’s what great organizations are all about.

``Look, one of the elements of professional sports is that players are going to come and go for various reasons. But I think it’s important that you embrace and recognize your history and those who have made the contributions to get you where you are,’’ Martins continued. ``That was the premise by which we decided to formulate our recognition of various players. And it really is the foundation by which we came to this conclusion of a permanent recognition of those who have made meaningful and historical impact on the franchise.’’