ORLANDO – Honoring Orlando’s storied history and highlighting Central Florida’s long-standing ties to a citrus industry that put the area on the map worldwide for generations, the Magic unveiled new uniforms on Thursday that are trimmed and highlighted with a robust color of orange.
While the Nike-designed, ``City Edition’’ uniforms have a dark gray base layer officially called ``anthracite,’’ it’s the orange text and trim that are most noticeable and significant because of the boldness of the hue and the departure from the franchise’s traditional blue, black and silver color scheme. The large, orange letters O R L stretch across the chest of the jerseys, and the tops are also adorned with orange piping around the neck and down the sides. Missing are the pinstripes that the franchise has worn for many of its 31 years of existence, but the shorts do feature the word MAGIC on the belt are have Magic logos splashed on the side panels.
``We’re really excited about it because this has been a project that’s more than two years in the making and we really wanted to come up with a jersey that was really reflective of our city and our market and we believe that we’ve hit on it,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said. ``Really, this representation of the history of Orlando and Orange County, and our citrus industry in particular, while focusing on the orange. Orange is in in the roots of our entire area – whether it’s the citrus industry or Orange County or Orange Avenue. We really wanted to be reflective of that and we’re excited about it.’’
Most of the Magic’s players were on hand Thursday night at the NBA Experience at Disney Springs to exclusively unveil the new look to a host of Magic season ticketholders. Walt Disney World Resort is the Magic’s uniform branding partner, and similar to other looks worn by the team this season, the new ``City Edition’’ jerseys will be adorned with a Disney logo across the upper left chest plate.
``It’s unique. I’ve been here a long time and it’s always been black, blue, gray and white and now we’re going to look different,’’ said Magic center Nikola Vucevic, the longest-tenured player on the roster. ``We’re in Orlando, in Orange County and Florida is big for oranges, so it goes well. I think it was a good idea and it’s good to do something different. And I like the colors, the orange looks nice with the gray. I like it a lot. … It makes sense if you know what’s behind it with Florida oranges.’’
The Magic will wear the gray and orange uniforms in a game for the first time on Nov. 29 when they face the Toronto Raptors at the Amway Center. The franchise will also unveil an orange-themed court design that same night that will match the new uniforms.
The orange ``City Edition’’ jerseys – developed through a collaborative effort between the NBA, its players and Nike – will go on sale to fans on Nov. 27 at the Orlando Magic Team Store at the Amway Center and online at OrlandoMagicShop.com. Fans can also check out the new look of the uniforms and view the Magic’s many looks throughout the 31-year history of the franchise by logging onto OrlandoMagic.com.
``Orlando and oranges, it makes sense and I like it,’’ said Magic season-ticketholder Jason Ansley, of Ocala, who had his wife (Stacey) and children (Jackson and Kiera) on hand for the new jersey unveiling. ``It makes if we’re changing everything (with the overall color scheme) or it’s just a new color.’’
Martins said the orange-trimmed uniforms with the anthracite base layer are approximately the 12thiteration of a process that began two years ago because of the lead time Nikes needs in designing and manufacturing. In fact, Martins said the Magic recently finalized the ``City Edition’’ look for the 2020-21 season and next week the franchise will begin collaborating with Nike for the look of the 2021-22 uniforms.
``The gray is an homage to the gray that we have in our color palate already, but it’s a different type of gray that’s called anthracite gray,’’ Martins said. ``This anthracite gray is actually one of the more popular colors of sportswear. So, that’s something Nike helped us with as we wanted to transition from our current color palate to include the orange, but also have part of our current color palate. Nike came to us and said, `This (anthracite gray) is the hottest color in sports wear merchandise right now and we think it would make great sense because you have gray in your color palate already.’’’
This is the third consecutive season that the Magic have worn ``City Edition’’ uniforms, a version of gear that is specifically designed to honor and speak to a franchise’s home city/state roots in a somewhat radical, modern way. During the 2017-18 season, Orlando wore a space-themed uniform that was mostly navy blue in color and dotted with galaxy lights. Last season, the Magic donned a black uniform that had a space theme along the side panels and one that featured their streaking stars and basketball secondary logo prominently across the chest.
The orange and gray uniform is the fourth and final one in the Magic’s collection for the 2018-19 season. The franchise recently unveiled its ``Statement Edition’’ uniforms that are primarily blue but also feature splashes of black and white pinstriping along the sides of the jersey and shorts. The other two uniform models include the black, pinstriped ``Icon Edition’’ and the white, pinstriped ``Association Edition.’’
The orange-themed uniforms are a nod to Orlando’s plentiful sunshine and a citrus industry that has thrived throughout Central Florida since the mid-19thcentury. According to historians, Florida first produced more than a million boxes of citrus not long after the end of the Civil War. By 1950, that production had grown to 100 million boxes of fruit annually and it doubled to 200 million by 1971. Orange juice became Florida official beverage in 1967 and government officials dubbed the orange to be the Sunshine State’s official fruit in 2005.
Today, Florida is second only to Brazil in terms of grapefruit production worldwide and some 70 percent of America’s citrus fruits come from the Sunshine State, according to VisitFlorida.com. Economists estimate that the growing, packaging and selling of citrus employees nearly 76,000 people and it generates a nearly $9 billion impact on Florida’s economy.
``That’s really the intention of the ``City Edition,’’ as it’s called, to have a uniform that’s reflective of that city and tells the story of that city,’’ Martins said. ``We believe this uniform really does with the history of our community and the citrus industry. We really believe we’ve hit on the mark of what Nike and the league have tried to do with this ``City Edition’’ uniform.’’
The Magic are hardly the first NBA franchise to venture away from their traditional colors while attempting to honor their home areas with the ``City Edition’’ uniforms. The Utah Jazz (gradient colors of yellow, orange and red to honor the state’s many national parks), Oklahoma City Thunder (teal blue to honor the state’s Native American heritage), Minnesota Timberwolves (purple to honor musician Prince), Miami Heat (pink and black for a ``Miami Vice’’ theme), New Orleans Pelicans (purple, green and gold for a Mardi Gras theme) and San Antonio Spurs (black and silver camouflage for the city’s military ties) have been some of the more bold and popular looks debuted over the last two seasons.
This season, the Atlanta Hawks have already unveiled a dark blue and gold ``City Edition’’ jersey with PEACHTREE splashed across the chest to signify its city’s most ubiquitous Atlanta street name.
``Like other sports leagues, our fans are interested in having some different options to wear to a game or when they are out in the marketplace and they’ve really taken to the ``City Edition’’ uniforms,’’ Martins said. ``The ``City Edition’’ uniform is the one that changes every year, and this will be a uniform that we’ll only wear this year and it’ll never appear again. But we’ll have the next version of it next season. It’s allowed us to put a lot of different jerseys out into the marketplace and we’ve found it to be very successful. We have a big pre-order at our team stores because this one, in particular, is very popular.’’
The Magic, 112-97 winners over the star-studded Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, host the Spurs on Friday at the Amway Center (tipoff: 7 p.m.; TV: Fox Sports Florida). The Magic (4-7) wrap up a season-long five-game home stand on Sunday with a 6 p.m. game against the Washington Wizards.
Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.