David Steele to be Inducted Into Magic Hall of Fame

by John Denton

ORLANDO – Apparently the Orlando Magic figured they couldn’t have a Hall of Fame without having ``the voice of the Orlando Magic’’ among the members of the franchise’s most exclusive club.

David Steele, the voice of Magic basketball over radio and television throughout the 30-year history of the franchise, was announced on Friday as the next inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. Steele will become the eighth inductee into the Magic Hall on Feb. 22 and he will be honored later that night when Orlando hosts the Chicago Bulls at the Amway Center.

``For 30 years, David Steele has represented the Orlando Magic with tremendous dignity and class,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said. ``When looking back at the most significant contributions to our history, David has been there to provide the soundtrack for all of them. It is only fitting that he takes his rightful place into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.’’

Steele will join some of the legendary players that he’s called throughout his distinguished 30-year career with the Magic in the team’s Hall of Fame. Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee ``Penny’’ Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, Nick Anderson, late owner Rich DeVos, co-founder and Senior Vice President Pat Williams and co-founder Jimmy Hewitt are the other members of the Magic Hall of Fame, which was started in 2014 to honor the franchise’s rich history.

Steele, a native of Jacksonville, is one of just three people who have worked for the Magic for all 30 years, joining Director of Team Services Rodney ``Sid’ Powell and Williams. Steele worked as the play-by-play voice of the Magic on radio for the franchise’s first nine seasons and he has spent the last 21 seasons as the television play-by-play broadcaster for the Magic on Fox Sports Florida.

During his tenure, Steele has called 2,296 Magic games (regular season and playoffs) on both television and radio.

STARTER’S MINUTES: When the Magic got Jonathan Isaac back from an early-season ankle injury, their initial plan was to bring him along slowly with a minutes’ restriction and ultimately return him to the starting lineup. However, head coach Steve Clifford has been somewhat leery of returning Isaac to a starting role because he has concerns about the inconsistencies of Orlando’s reserves.

For now, Clifford said, Jonathon Simmons will continue to start, and Isaac will play in a reserve role even though he has been especially impressive with his play on both ends of the floor of late. Clifford’s primary goal is to bring balance to the two units so that there’s not a major drop off when Orlando breaks the lineup and turns to the second unit.

``(Isaac) is going to play, obviously, starter’s minutes, so I don’t think he cares and I’ve talked to him a lot about it,’’ Clifford said. ``All he wants to do is win. He has an incredible perspective and attitude for anybody, but especially for a guy his age.

``With the lineups, we’re close (to having the two groups balanced),’’ Clifford added. ``We’ve got to get to a place where we’re more consistent with the way that we’re playing our (first and second) groups.’’

INDY ISSUES: Already without standout guard Victor Oladipo because of a lingering knee issue, the Indiana Pacers were hit by a bout of food poisoning prior to Friday’s game against the Magic.

The food poisoning knocked reserve forward Domantas Sabonis out of the game. Sabonis, who was drafted by the Magic in 2016 before being traded to Oklahoma City, has been one of the NBA’s best bench players this season while averaging 14.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game.

Indiana coach Nate McMillan wasn’t fully clear about how a chunk of his team came down with either food poisoning or the stomach flu.

``It hit a couple of guys,’’ a frustrated McMillan said. ``We don’t know (if it happened in Orlando) and it doesn’t matter.’’

McMillan said the bout of food poisoning thrust forward T.J. Leaf and another former Magic big man, Kyle O’Quinn into the rotation for Friday’s game. O’Quinn, who played for Orlando from 2012-15, left the New York Knicks to sign a free-agent deal with the Pacers last summer.

Oladipo, a standout with the Magic from 2013-16, leads the Pacers in scoring (21.4) and assists (4.7) and ranks second on the team in rebounding (6.6) and steals (1.56). However, he hasn’t played since Nov. 17 because of a sore right knee and the Pacers recently announced that the all-star guard would continue to be out as he tries to rehabilitate his way back into form.

``Of course he wants to be back on the floor and, yes, he is making improvements, but he is not ready to go,’’ McMillan said. ``He came over (to Amway Center) and got some shots up this morning and he’s working every day, but he’s not ready to go.’’

UP NEXT: Despite being back in Central Florida for just a few nights following six-game road run that stretched out across four time zones and 13 days, the Magic are about to head back out on the road again for another extended road trip.

Orlando will play the Mavericks in Dallas on Monday. After that, the team will depart for Mexico City where it will serve as the home team for two games for the NBA Mexico City Games 2018. The Magic will face the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in Mexico City and will play the Utah Jazz on Dec. 16 (Saturday afternoon) before returning back to Central Florida.

It will be the franchise’s second trip to Mexico City after playing a preseason game there in 2012.

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.