Over at Crossover Chronicles, we are profiling the four jerseys you must have for every NBA team. Wednesday was Orlando's turn and I had a hand in helping make the decisions.
We concluded Dwight Howard's No. 12 is the jersey you gotta have, Penny Hardaway's No. 1 is one you can't go wrong with, Darrell Armstrong's No. 10 jersey would be pretty sweet, and my limited edition Tracy McGrady-turned-Doug Christie No. 1 jersey is pretty darn funny.
There are other jerseys worthy of consideration. Plenty more. As Red's Army's John Karalis wrote in introducing the Magic: "The Magic are an interesting team with just enough history to make you feel like they've been around for a long time, but a past short enough to remind you that they're relatively new."
Even in jersey designs there have been some solid ones and an interesting history. Magic fans absolutely love the original Magic pinstripes. The second design with in-laid stars was a more updated look that departed. The third jersey was overly plain, but simple. And the current jersey which combined the old pinstripes with a newer look.
Magic history has been represented pretty clearly in the different eras the jerseys have come to represent -- expansion and rise, mediocrity, Young Dwight Howard and the Championship Era (not quite championship, but you get my drift).
So what are the jerseys you have to have to complete your collection? Let me take a quick stab:
Blue New Pinstripe Dwight Howard: Over at Crossover Chronicles we selected the Dwight Howard jersey as the one you got to have. Let me take it one step further and say the blue new pinstripe Dwight Howard jersey. The new pinstripes were very much a collection and summation of every Magic uniform that came before it -- incorporating old and new. But really Howard's play and dominance has come to define them. I think just about every Magic fan should have at least one Dwight Howard jersey in their closet. The blue pinstripe, to me, is the one that looks the best.
Black Old Pinstripe Shaquille O'Neal: Now that O'Neal has retired, maybe it is time to recognize his historical significance and make it cool to wear his jersey again. O'Neal was undoubtedly the man who put Orlando on the NBA map in leading the team to its first Finals appearance. He then also broke out hearts in leaving the way he did (arguably departing from a championship-caliber team for Los Angeles). Still, O'Neal was the man who rocked the NBA world from the moment he set foot in it.
Blue Star Tracy McGrady: People still kind of hate Tracy McGrady. I get that. There has been some push back to appreciate what he did in Orlando. Historically, he might be the best scorer in the franchise's history. And the McGrady jersey was something of a fashion statement. Forget the player, wearing a No. 1 jersey said something. It said you were unstoppable. And really the jersey design is simple, plain and gets the message across. I am No. 1. And at one time, that was Tracy McGrady.
Can't Go Wrong With
Blue Old Pinstripe Anfernee Hardaway: Like I mentioned in the Crossover Chronicles piece, we are getting to a point historically where we can begin appreciating some of the stars that left us with a bad taste in our mouth. Hardaway had a brilliant run in the early part of his career in Orlando. And, like the McGrady jersey, the number one jersey is a very powerful image. Hardaway was the original number one and on the original blue alternate jersey, it had a certain amount of flash and style.
White Old Pinstripe Nick Anderson: Nick Anderson was the original Magic player and the original jersey was the classic white pinstripe. Magic fans still have a certain affection for Anderson, even though he has become something of a goat for that thing in 1995. Anderson was a solid player and a hard worker in a Magic uniform. Not really much more needs to be said. Wearing an Anderson shows you are loyal, consistent and with the team from the beginning. You get a tip of the cap for sure for wearing a Nick jersey around town.
White New Pinstripe Rashard Lewis: Rashard Lewis got a contract he never could live up to. But his look in the new pinstripes was pretty sweet. Lewis made his mark in the 2009 Playoffs, nearly earning every penny of his contract that year. His clutch performances against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals deserved particular notice. Even though everyone seemed upset with Lewis' contract, you could not disfavor the impact he made on the court for Orlando in a short period. Lewis' game was anew-age as the jersey he wore and you (if you bought it now at least) would not regret the amount you paid for his jersey.
"Oh That's Cool"
Blue Old Pinstripe Darrell Armstrong: Darrell Armstrong really made his name wearing the star jerseys of the early 2000s. But Armstrong, to me, always looked flashier and faster in those old blue pinstripes. He got his start wearing those pinstripes and made a name for himself and put himself in the rotation wearing the old pinstripes in the 1997 Playoffs. An old Armstrong jersey says, the best is yet to come and I am going to do whatever it takes to get there. You can just see the optimism and energy bursting out of every pinstripe.
White Old Pinstripe Reggie Theus: Reggie Theus was out of his prime when he came to Orlando that inaugural year, but you might make the argument he was the team's first star. Not a superstar. But a star. Wearing a Theus jersey says you were with the Magic from the beginning because you remember the early years. You were rocking the O-Rena before the team was any good. And, more importantly, you may have switched your allegiances and adopted the Magic as your own.
White Old Pinstripe Horace Grant: I personally put a lot of importance in the work Horace Grant did in a Magic uniform. His statistics suggest he was just average. But the quiet professionalism of Grant very much resembles the let's get to work look the pinstripes convey (think the Yankees, they don't mess around, they just win). Grant gets a lot of respect (except from Doc Rivers), and so will you if you rock the No. 54. Especially if you add the goggles as an accessory.
"Oh That's Funny"
Blue Plain Tracy McGrady-turned-Doug Christie: Nothing says you hate a player more than finding the next player to wear his jersey number, pulling out a piece of duct tape, sharpying on the new player's name and covering up the old. When the new player is a guy who does not want to be there and waves around his bone spurs in a baggy to show how injured he is (and why he can't be with the team to rehab), well that is just downright hilarious. Hatred blinded reason as Doug Christie's poor half season in Orlando played out. More than a few fans created their own version of this jersey to express that. I am not alone... I swear.
White Old Pinstripe Stanley Roberts: This jersey does not come in a size smaller than XXXXL. Roberts was a big bruiser and former college running mate of Shaquille O'Neal. He is most famous for leaving Orlando and gaining tons of weight, but he had some sort of athleticism in his rookie year in Orlando. Still he did foul out in one quarter (six fouls, one quarter, incredible). Black is too slimming to get away with in your Stanley Roberts jersey. You have to show your entire girth wearing this thing.
Blue Star Shawn Kemp: Shawn Kemp. What an ill-fated venture that was. Kemp was an incredibly nice guy. I met him a few times during that season and he had lost a lot of his boisterousness that made him such a star in the 1990s. But this is another jersey you cannot get in a small. Kemp was woefully overweight -- definitely above 300 pounds at least -- when he came to Orlando and was a shell of himself. I don't even think he could dunk when he was in a Magic uniform. When I see someone wearing a Sonics Kemp jersey, I think to myself "Nice." If someone actually wore a Magic one, I would have to try hard not to laugh out loud.
Old Pinstripe Road Warmups: I still think these are the best warmups the Magic ever wore. And really both of the original warmups were fantastic. The home warmups had a very professional look, showing off some of the pinstripes on the side while keeping it a simple white with the Magic logo on the front and back. But the road warmups were sublime. The front had Magic streaking across the chest with blue on top and the pinstripes on a black background. The greatness though is on the back where the logo is completed with the streaking ball. I really wish the Fan Attic were still open so I could get one!
Horace Grant Goggles: Sorry Bo Outlaw's shades, Horace Grant's goggles are a must-have accessory. With lenses or without, the bulky blue goggles were Grant's symbol. When Orlando acquired Horace Grant, the shirts jokingly stated: "It's got to be the goggles." There must have been some enchantment in them as pushed Orlando over the top and into the Finals immediately. It should be noted he switched to the new-age shades in his second stint in Orlando and was nowhere near as effective. Just saying.
Matt Barnes Will Kill You T-Shirt: Mother Falcon's classic t-shirt became a fan favorite throughout the 2010 Playoffs. Barnes was a new type of Magic player -- an enforcer. Fans loved his toughness and loved this shirt. You still see them around Amway Center even though Barnes signed with the Lakers in 2010.Photos via DayLife.com. Doug Christie jersey via Philip Rossman-Reich and Crossover Chronicles.