The NBA has hit its All-Star Weekend! Hard to believe that the game was in Orlando just a short year ago.
The Magic have only two representatives in this year's festivities -- Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson will participate in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday -- and we will be watching them closely Friday night in that game. The two have already touched down in Houston and have started the media frenzy that is the preparations for their showcase.
Orlando though has a rich All-Star history. And so to whet your appetite for the weekend ahead, let's take a look back at the moments that have made Magic All-Star history.
Who is ready for a trivia lesson? Name the first Magic player to participate in All-Star Weekend.
The year above should tell you that it was not Shaquille O'Neal (he came two years later). No, the first player to wear the Magic uniform at All-Star Weekend was Dennis Scott!
Scott competed in the 3-Point Shootout that weekend in Charlotte, reaching the semifinals with 16 points in the first round. Here is Craig Hodges winning the whole thing.
Otis Smith joined 3D to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest. Otis Smith scored two 41s and was eliminated in the first round. Word was he liked his dunks. This was the famous Dunk Contest won by Dee Brown after he pumped up his shoes and did the peek-a-boo. Enjoy the best of that contest.
Before the Magic even officially had a player in the game, the city played host to the All-Star Game and had one of the most memorable performances in All-Star history. Magic Johnson made a special return to the game. And he put in an MVP performance with 25 points and nine assists.
When the All-Star Game returned to Orlando last year, the moment was honored with Magic Johnson back in the building.
Nick Anderson was the featured Magic player on Saturday night in Orlando as he participated in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Also in that All-Star Weekend, Craig Hodges defended his 3-point shootout crown and Cedric Ceballos won the Dunk Contest. I for some reason want to see a Legends Game again now too.
The Magic get their first official All Star as Shaquille O'Neal starts for the East in his rookie season in the All-Star Game in Salt Lake City's Delta Center. O'Neal scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his first All-Star appearance in the West's 135-132 win.
The future of the NBA was very much on display in Minneapolis for this All-Star Weekend. Shaquille O'Neal started for the second time in his second season. But he had company for this trip. Anfernee Hardaway was the MVP of the first ever Rookie Game leading the Sensations over the Phenoms in overtime with a team-best 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting.
O'Neal started again, but struggled, shooting 2 for 12 from the floor in scoring eight points and grabbing 12 rebounds in an East win up at Target Center in Minneapolis. Shaq did get to stare down Hakeem Olajuwon however.
The Magic got a much larger representation in Phoenix for the 1995 All-Star Game. Anfernee Hardaway and Brian Hill and his coaching staff joined O'Neal for the All-Star Game festivities as the Magic had raced out to the best record in the East on their way to an Eastern Conference Championship.
Nick Anderson was the first Magic man to take the floor as he participated in that year's 3-point shootout, becoming the only Magic player to participate in both the 3-point shootout and the dunk contest in a Magic uniform. Anderson failed to crack the final four however.
The All-Star Game was a great one for the Magic men. O'Neal scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Hardaway scored 12 points to go with 11 assists and five rebounds in his first All-Star appearance.
And if anyone ever tells you Dwyane Wade made band-aids cool to wear, they are wrong. It was Anfernee Hardaway.
O'Neal and Hardaway start yet again for the East in what would be their final pairing together in the league's showcase event -- this one in the Alamodome in San Antonio. Hardaway scored 18 points to go with seven assists and O'Neal has 25 points to go with 10 rebounds. Michael Jordan wins the MVP despite scoring five fewer points than O'Neal.
Shaq was not a very nice guest to David Robinson in San Antonio.
Of course, Jordan got the last/first laugh when he ripped off Hardaway's pants in introductions.
Dennis Scott came the closest a Magic player has ever come to winning the 3-point shootout. The veteran sharpshooter, competing in his second 3-point shootout, finished secnod, losing by a single basket to Tim Legler. I remember being very distraught about this at the time.
This All-Star Game also featured Darrell Armstrong showing off all his spunkiness in the Slam Dunk Contest. It was not a performance to remember, unfortunately. Although, that was a thunderous reverse layup.
Hardaway was still a starter in the first year without O'Neal, scoring 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the East's win. The big shocker in Cleveland was Glen Rice's 20 points in the fourth quarter to give the East the win. And, yes, that is a young Kobe Bryant in his first All-Star Game. And Tom Gugliotta.
Hardaway was back as a starter in 1998, but he was coming off an injury and was on a strict minutes limit. He played six minutes in each half for his cameo at this game at Madison Square Garden.
It was a new era of Magic basketball as Tracy McGrady made his first start for the East All-Star team. There were probably some nerves, as he made just one of his four shots and scored two points. But McGrady had officially arrived. Grant Hill was there with him (also named a starter), but in street clothes. An all too familiar theme.
The game itself was a classic with Allen Iverson leading a frenzied comeback in the second half to give the East a one-point win in Washington, D.C.
This weekend also saw Pat Garrity represent the Magic yet again in the 3-point shootout. Garrity was a mainstay in the Magic lineup throughout this era of Magic basketball and a great shooter in his own right. Ray Allen was the contest winner.
It also saw Mike Miller, the eventual Rookie of the Year, represent the Magic in the newly christened Rookie-Sophomore Game. Miller became the Magic's first rookie to compete in the exhibition since Hardaway in 1994 (thanks John Gabriel). Mike Miller scored 11 points in the Sophomores win.
McGrady announed himself to the world with an incredible and fun performance at the 2002 All-Star Game in Philadelphia. He introduced his off-the-backboard dunk in scoring 24 points and simply dominated the highlight reel for this game. The final result did not matter. McGrady was officially an MVP candidate.
Miller also returned to join the Sophomore in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge. He struggled this time around though with only seven points, but he did dish out 11 assists.
In Atlanta, McGrady continued to cement his status as a true NBA superstar with 29 points in this double overtime thriller, that turned out to be Michael Jordan's final All-Star Game. This game was not about his highlights. It was about him being one of the best players in the league. and there was no doubt about that.
Garrity also returned to the All-Star Weekend to compete in the 3-point shootout. He lost to Peja Stojakovic however.
McGrady was in the midst of an awful season for his team when the All-Star Game descended upon Los Angeles. He was dissatisfied with the direction the Magic were heading and the seeds of frustration were going. This was a weekend for him to relax a bit. McGrady scored 15 points in his second straight start and third in four years in a Magic uniform.
Somehow, the year after Tracy McGrady was traded out of Orlando, Grant Hill was voted onto the All-Star team and played 17 minutes, scoring six points for the East in Denver. It was actually the only All-Star Game Hill played in while with the Magic.
However, the future of the team was at the All-Star Weekend. Dwight Howard played in the Rookie-Sophomroe Challenge, scoring 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting on a big team that featured Emeka Okafor and Al Jefferson. This game might have been notable in that it featured Miami's big three...
Dwight Howard was the only Magic player to play in this All-Star Weekend in Houston. Jameer Nelson was also named to the Sophomore team, but he was unable to play because of an injury. Howard took it easy in this sophomore win with four points on 2-for-7 shooting as Andre Iguodala scored 30 points.
By 2007, Dwight Howard was ready to take the reigns as the face of the Magic franchise. He was an All Star for the first time, coming off the bench behind Shaquille O'Neal in this event in Las Vegas and dancing like a Dwight'in fool as he usually did.
This was his weekend to have fun and get the full All-Star experience. He entered the Slam Dunk Contest where his "sticker dunk" did not wow the judges, but wowed everyone else.
He had 20 points and 14 rebounds in his All-Star debut.
In New Orleans, Dwight Howard found his stage to true superstardom with a victory in the Slam Dunk contest. Howard was very upset over how his sticker dunk was overlooked in the previous year's dunk contest and so he stewed and came back to the All-Star Game to win the dunk contest. He brought out his new persona and became a superstar this evening.
He also started in his first All-Star Game and put in a solid 16 points and nine rebounds on a perfect 7 for 7.
In Phoenix, Dwight Howard allowed Nate Robinson to leap over him for a Slam Dunk Contest win. Howard had too much to live up to in this contest.
Howard started again for the East and scored 13 points to go with nine rebounds. For the first time Orlando had three All Stars on the roster with Rashard Lewis playing in the game and Jameer Nelson selected to the team, but unable to play because of injury.
Lewis was also busy on Saturday night, nearly winning the 3-point shootout with his funky shooting motion before losing to Daequan Cook in a shootout.
In front of the largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game at Cowboys Stadium outside of Dallas, Howard started for the East and scored 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Howard was quickly learning this is a guard dominated game and not one for much big man highlights. Stan Van Gundy joined the fun as the Magic staff earned the right to be the East's coaches for this game. I am sure he was thrilled when Howard drilled this three.
Howard played 21 minutes and scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds in this uneventful All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles for the big man. Calling out the starters for the TNT broadcast was probably his only highlight.
The All-Star Game was back in Orlando. The Amway Center was rocking and the city "was on fire" as Dwight Howard described it. It was a crazy season thanks to Dwight Howard's indecision about his future, but he seemed to put it all to rest for three short days. Orlando was the center of the NBA universe and proved to be a home run. The All-Star Game should be returning again.
But this event was well-known for Kyrie Irving's crazy performance in the Rising Stars Challenge,
Kevin Love winning a 3-point shootout for the big men,
Jeramy Evans coming out of nowhere to win the Slam Dunk contest,
and Kevin Durant winning his first All-Star MVP.
And, most importantly, the reunion of Penny, Shaq and Dennis Scott.
Ryan Anderson was also competing for the Magic in the 3-point shootout that Kevin Love eventually won.
We cannot wait to see what memories Andrew Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic add to this history of All-Star greatness!