Douglas Jones/USA TODAY
The Magic will continue their Friday night Legends Night celebrations this week against the Thunder as they will honor former general manager John Gabriel, former forward and longtime broadcaster Jeff Turner and inaugural starting point guard Sam Vincent. The trio will be recognized at mid-court during Friday's game against the Thunder with Vincent joining the Fox Sports Florida broadcast during the pregame show and Gabriel sitting in with David Steele and Jeff Turner during the second quarter.
The three played a very key role in the Magic as a franchise.
John Gabriel was an assistant general manager under Pat Williams in the early days of the team and took over as the team's general manager when Pat Williams stepped into the role of executive vice president. Gabriel was general manager when the Magic went to the Finals in 1995 and helped build that team into a championship contender.
After Shaquille O'Neal left the organization, Gabriel kept Orlando in position to make the Playoffs. But his brilliant master stroke came when he cleared cap room and put the Magic in position to sign Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Tim Duncan in one summer. He did not do too bad, getting two of the three.
Of course, that ended up being his undoing. Grant Hill spent most of his seven years on the injured list and Gabriel missed on several drafts in the interim, failing to give Tracy McGrady the supporting case he needed to lift the Magic beyond the first round. Gabriel was relieved of his duties during the 2003-04 season as the Magic's season fell apart to a 21-61 disaster.
Gabriel still lives in the Orlando area and is a frequent visitor to the Amway Center as part of New York's scouting staff.
Jeff Turner has hardly left Orlando since joining the Magic as their first free agent signing in 1989. He played seven seasons with the Magic, averaging 6.5 points per game mostly off the bench. He was a part of the 1995 Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic and was a precursor to the stretch-4 era with his ability to step out and hit 3-pointers -- 35.3 percent for his time with Orlando.
After retiring, he quickly returned to Orlando and served as the Magic Radio Network's color analyst alongside David Steele and Dennis Neumann. He now serves as the color analyst for Fox Sports Florida's broadcast of Magic games.
Sam Vincent played three seasons for the Magic from 1990-1992. He averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 assists per game. Vincent holds the honor of starting at point guard in the Magic's very first regular season game on Nov. 4, 1989.
Vincent later served as head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats for a season in 2008. Vincent is now an active member and one of the founding members of the NBRPA, the association representing retired NBA players.
As always, it will be great to have all three back in the Amway Center to celebrate the Magic's history.