The Magic will honor Tracy McGrady during Friday's home opener against the Pelicans and then will honor Nick Anderson during next Friday's home game against the Celtics. The big honor will come later this season.
During a season ticket holder 25th Anniversary Kick-Off event, Magic CEO Alex Martins announced the team will create a Magic Hall of Fame as a permanent way to commemorate the franchise's history. It will be located in the Fan Experience area on the Terrace Level of the Amway Center. The first inductees will be announced later this year.
"We've been trying to find a way to recognize the great players who have played for us and, in some way, memorialize them in the building and for our fans," Martins said. "We feel this is the perfect way to do it. This will be recognition for not just players, but coaches and executives. It will be a great place over the course of time for fans who come along for the next 25 years who perhaps didn't get an opportunity to see certain players and coaches to really understand and recognize the contributions that they have made to our team."
The inaugural class will be announced later on during the year as part of the team's 25th Anniversary celebration.
As far as retiring jerseys, a move many Magic fans would like to see for at least someone during the year, Martins re-iterated that the team has an internal criteria for that option. However, Martins said jersey retirement should be reserved for a player that made a large impact on the team and the league as a whole. Martins has said in a previous radio interview that no player has met the team's internal criteria.
Magic luminary Pat Williams told David Baumann on his radio show Thursday night that the criteria the Magic have for such an honor is a very tough one indeed.
We just asked #Magic Sr. VP Pat Williams about the potential of retiring Magic jersey numbers in the future. He said he doesn't see it...— David Baumann (@DavidBaumann33) November 1, 2013
#Magic Sr VP Pat Williams gave us guidelines for retiring a jersey: Must play in Orlando for 10+ years, must make multiple All-Star Games...— David Baumann (@DavidBaumann33) November 1, 2013
Martins said however that the Hall of Fame was a good way to balance the desire to keep jersey retirement ceremonies truly special while also finding a way to recognize contributors to the team and the organization who do not quite qualify for the honor.
"Jersey retirement for a player is the highest of honors for a franchise to celebrate the players who over the course of time have made the most impact not just on the team but on the league," Martins said. "That will always be a consideration. We'll continue to evaluate who and when we do those kind of things. We have a list of criteria that we will always use as a measuring stick. That opportunity will always be there as well."
He said the 25th Anniversary season really pushed the team to find a way to honor the team's greatest players in a permanent way. He added that the Magic studied how other teams honored their greatest players and devised this idea to do so. There are a lot of great players who come and go, Martins said, who do not qualify for jersey retirement but still should get some recognition in perpetuity with the team.
The surefire candidates to be included in the nominees for the first Hall of Fame class certainly will be Pat Williams, who helped bring the team to Orlando, along with his partner Jim Hewitt. Nick Anderson, the team's original draft pick, should also be among the players considered for induction in the inaugural class. That would only seem right.
Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway might also garner consideration and the two will certainly be included in the Hall of Fame if not in this year's class then certainly in the next one.
"I'm just thankful," Anderson said. "I don't expect anything. Whatever is given to me, I think you earn it. If this organization and these fans think I've earned it, then I'll go with it. But I never just expect anything. If I've earned it, I'll take it."
He most certainly will get it. But Anderson, a luminary in the Magic pantheon, has his own opinions on who should be in. Anderson said he would include Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Horace Grant and Scott Skiles. They may not get in with the first class, but they all should get in eventually.
The whole celebration of the team's 25 years of existence will begin tonight with the season opener.
The team has placed silver shirts with the 25th Anniversary logo emblazoned on them on each seat in the Amway Center. There will also be a special video that will accompany the player introductions celebrating the team's past and present, which was previewed during the season ticket holder event (and it is very very awesome).
The Magic will honor Tracy McGrady between the first and second quarters as part of the team's celebration of its history. It will be the first of many honors for former players, coaches, executives, staff and season ticket holders throughout the year.
For Martins and the Magic, they hope it will be a great look back as the team moves forward toward its future.
"We've had one of the most successful teams in the NBA over the last 20 years," Martins said. "One of the top two or three winning percentages in the Eastern Conference over that time. And it's just the beginning. Obviously, our goal is to win an NBA championships. We haven't done that. Hopefully soon in the second 25 years, we'll be able to accomplish that goal."