August 22, 1986 isn’t marked down as a special day in Orlando Magic franchise history. It probably should be. 1986 was the year the Central Florida area was going to leap into the professional sports spotlight…whether its residents were planning on it or not.
June 19, 1986 is a fairly famous day for those alive at the time. That was the morning that local businessman Jim Hewitt and the then recently ex-Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Pat Williams unveiled orange t-shirts that read ‘Orlando on the Way to the NBA’ and officially announced to anyone willing to listen that Orlando was throwing its hat into the ring of National Basketball Association expansion.
Think about 1986 for a minute. The metropolitan population of the Orlando area is over 2.3 million people now. Three decades ago, it was about 600,000.
That was back when Orlando was literally known for Disney World, orange trees, golfing, and a place to go to retire. College football and MLB spring training only occupied a tiny portion of the 12-month calendar. No major professional sports franchises to call their own. Dirt and gravel roads – or at least poorly paved concrete ones – were everywhere.
There were plans for the town’s first big-time arena to be built so that they could begin attracting various events, but the financing was far from approved when this NBA conquest began. Getting an NBA franchise would certainly accelerate and solidify those plans. Williams, Hewitt, and a tiny staff began accepting $100 season ticket deposits from residents so that evidence could be given to the NBA that basketball in Orlando could work.
July 27, 1986 was the day the potential Orlando franchise got their name. ‘Magic’. This is where immense ambition from a few individuals can be a wonderful thing when it comes to inspiring the masses. Everyone was skeptical of what Hewitt and Williams were looking to accomplish. Citizens, politicians, media. ‘Why would the NBA come here?’
Well, through a ton of perseverance in a short amount of time, local opinions changed fast. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly when belief kicked in, but I’d like to think an August 18, 1986 Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting played a noticeable role in letting its citizens know that this pursuit of an NBA franchise was no joke.
Orlando Magic wing Mario Hezonja may have saved his best Olympic performance for last. It’s too bad it occurred in a narrow loss, as Croatia fell 86-83 to Serbia in the quarterfinals. Hezonja tallied 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists on 4-of-8 shooting (2-of-5 on 3s) in 27 minutes of action, as well as being a clutch 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final minute of play while Croatia was desperate to draw even.
Croatia had a disastrous third period, but managed to win the fourth 31-20, and on numerous occasions were just unable to tie it up in the final two minutes. Mario had the ball in his hands plenty during that comeback as his floor general skills proved worthy. Despite leaving Brazil empty-handed though, this Croatia team will only get better as the years progress.
Bojan Bogdanovic may have scored a game-high 28 points, but Hezonja was more efficient than the go-to guy. Miro Bilan was the only other Croatia to reach double figures with 10 points. Dario Saric was bad, only managing 7 points. Serbia was led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 18 points. They got 12 points each from Stefan Markovic, Miroslav Raduljica, and Nikola Jokic.
Serbia only shot 41 FG%, but Croatia losing the turnover battle 18-10 is what did them in. Krunoslav Simon had 5, Saric had three giveaways, and Bogdanovic had 4 turnovers. Hezonja only coughed it up once.
In 6 games in Rio de Janeiro for Croatia, Hezonja averaged 9.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 1.3 apg on 48.6 FG% and 50.0 3PT% (12-of-24) in 21.7 minutes per contest. It’s by far the best senior tourney performance for Mario to date. Great efficiency.
The Erie BayHawks, in partnership with the Orlando Magic, have scheduled their 2016-2017 D-League season open tryouts for next month.
September 18th in Erie at Penn State-Behrend Junker Center, and September 25th in Orlando at Barnett Park are your dates. This will be the last season that Orlando’s developmental team will be in Pennsylvania, as it’s expected that Lakeland, FL will be the home of the Magic’s D-League franchise come the ’17-’18 campaign.
Players interested in participating in the tryouts are required to complete the registration forms found here or at the BayHawks front office.
Forms must be submitted by September 12th for the Erie tryout and September 18th for the Orlando tryouts with a money order or cashier’s check payable to the Erie BayHawks containing the $150 registration fee. The fee can also be paid by registering online. The Erie tryout registration can be found here and the Orlando registration here.
Pre-registration is highly advised as space is limited. Both locations are one-day tryouts. Players will be evaluated by Orlando Magic personnel. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the official start time at 9:00 a.m.
Good luck to those of you trying out.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The scenarios were well known for Croatia entering their final Group B match against Lithuania on Monday night. Beat Lithuania and win Group B, setting up a quarterfinal with Serbia. Lose and Croatia would finish 4th in Group B, scheduling a date with Team USA in the quarterfinals.
Croatia was victorious on Monday night, defeating Lithuania 90-81 in impressive fashion. They shot 53 FG% including 11-of-19 on 3s, while holding Lithuania to just 11-of-28 on triple attempts.
Orlando Magic wing Mario Hezonja came off the bench, contributing 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal on 2-of-4 shooting (2-of-3 on 3s) in 22:30 game action. Mario played the entire second period, as well as the final 12:30 of the contest. His defense and offensive decoy presence were enough to keep him on the floor.
The Orlando Magic unveiled their new ‘Stars’ uniform, and – like with the ‘Pride’ sleeved gear – many people hated hard on those jerseys.
We continue to be hurt at how bad the Orlando Magic’s Twitter poll fan voting is going when deciding who the Top 25 players in franchise history are. After Ryan Anderson went on a run, Vince Carter is dwarfing that by demolishing everyone in his path.
Mario Hezonja and Croatia continue through their Group B pool play at the Olympics.
I reveal how the International Olympic Committee is very unhappy with him.
This episode of the podcast concludes with a look at the 2016-2017 regular season schedule and what matchups and road trips appear intriguing.
Warning: Adult Language
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The path to the quarterfinals just got a lot more difficult for the Orlando Magic’s Mario Hezonja and his Croatian national teammates. They fell 90-76 to Nigeria on Saturday night, leaving the door open now for Croatia to not progress from Group B and instead endure a disappointing trip home.
“2 games. 2 wins to history.” That was the message that Nigeria’s coach William Voigt told his winless team prior to tip-off as that’s what it would take to get into their first Olympic quarterfinal ever. His players definitely bought in to that pregame speech.
However, early on it looked like Croatia was going to take care of business when they led 28-21 after one quarter. They then tallied a horrific 11 points in the second period, and Nigeria knew they definitely could claim victory as they would ride hot 3-point shooting to a historic win for that African nation.
Super Mario had his worst shooting outing of these Olympics, finishing with 5 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 turnover on 2-of-8 shooting including 1-of-5 on 3-pointers in about 16 minutes of play. All of his points came in the first 7 minutes of the contest. As the game progressed and Croatia began to struggle, so did Mario.
Hezonja wasn’t the only player to struggle offensively as players like Dario Saric (7 points) and Krunoslav Simon (2 points on 1-of-7 FGs) couldn’t contribute scoring wise. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points, and Roko Ukic (10 points) was the only other Croatian to reach double digits. Michael Umeh led Nigeria with 19 points, and Josh Akognon chipped in with 18 points.
Nigeria crushed it from 3-point range, shooting 47.2 3PT% (17-of-36) while Croatia was just a bad 21.4 3PT% (6-of-28) from deep. Here is Hezonja’s shot chart:
We already knew about October’s exhibition schedule, but the Orlando Magic 2016-2017 regular season schedule was revealed on Thursday. Orlando opens training camp on September 27th at the Amway Center.
It’s still 82 games. 41 at home. 41 away. The Magic will play 52 games against the Eastern Conference. 18 games v. the Atlantic Division, 18 games v. the Central Division, and 16 games v. the Southeast Division, and 30 games against the Western Conference (ten games against each West division).
As previously written, Orlando’s opening night will be Wednesday October 26th when they host the Miami Heat at Amway Center. It’s the first time the two sunshine state teams will have faced off against each other to open a regular season since 1993, and the first time in Orlando since 1992.
That’s the good news. The rough news is after that, Orlando has a difficult back-to-back. They visit Detroit on Friday October 28th to face Tobias Harris, Stan Van Gundy, and the Pistons. Then they visit Channing Frye up in Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers on Saturday October 29th for the second night of a back-to-back.
The 3-game road trip continues Tuesday November 1st as Frank Vogel’s club goes to Philadelphia. It’s the first time the Magic will face Philly with Dario Saric on the Sixers roster. Along with being a Croatian national teammate of Mario Hezonja, the Magic traded Saric to Philly during the 2014 NBA Draft in order to acquire Elfrid Payton. Here’s to the young point guard having a big time.
The Magic will play 15 back-to-backs this campaign. League average is 16.3. Orlando only has one stretch of 4 games in 5 nights (December 6th-10th). That sounds reasonable. Orlando will play a total of 18 home games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this season at home. Orlando plays 9 homes games in November, and 9 home games in March. Need to protect that parquet floor.
What’s infuriating though is that Orlando has only 1 nationally televised game on ESPN when they host the Heat on March 3rd. That’s it. There’s also 3 other NBA TV games scheduled for now. The 4 total ‘national television’ contests are the fewest in the entire NBA! Not cool. Going to have to prove a lot of America wrong.
January looks to be a very challenging month. 11 of their 16 games to start of the 2017 calendar year will be on the road, including a season-long 6-game West road trip. That’s not mentioning the Golden State Warriors come to O-Town on Sunday January 22nd. On January 29th, Bismack Biyombo returns to Toronto for the first time.
Other notable matchups include: Magic in Oklahoma City on November 13th where Serge Ibaka should get a great ovation from Thunder fans. One night later on Nov. 14th, the Magic head to Indianapolis as Vogel faces his old employer the Pacers. Orlando visits Dwight Howard and the Hawks in Atlanta on Tuesday December 13th. Orlando plays in Indiana on New Year’s Day. Orlando plays Monday January 16th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – in Denver.
The last game before the All-Star Break is Wednesday February 15th when they host the San Antonio Spurs. First game after All-Star Weekend is a Thursday February 23rd home contest against Portland. The schedule in March and April doesn’t look too bad. Victor Oladipo doesn’t visit Orlando until Wednesday March 29th (NBA TV).
The final Magic regular season game of ’16-’17 is Wednesday April 12th when they host the Pistons at Amway Center.
See the full (including preseason) schedule below:
Croatia improved to a 2-1 record in Group B action on Thursday, holding off Olympic hosts Brazil 80-76. Orlando Magic wing Mario Hezonja was given his first Olympic start ever. The 6’8″ 21-year-old started at shooting guard and notched 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal on 2-of-3 shooting (all triples) in about 24 minutes of action.
Bojan Bogdanovic led all scorers with 33 points. Dario Saric tallied 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, but also 6 turnovers. Leandro Barbosa led Brazil with 16 points. Mario got benched late in crunch time due to two 4th quarter turnovers.
It’s still inexcusable that he only got three shot attempts, as the second-youngest player on that national team’s roster continues to get ignored offensively.
Croatia may have lost to Argentina on Tuesday night, but Orlando Magic wing player Mario Hezonja had himself a wonderful showing coming off the bench. The Olympic viewing public enjoyed it I’m sure. The final score was 90-82, but the contest was much tighter in crunch time.
Croatia harmed themselves with all of the technical fouls they got whistled for, and are now 1-1 in Group B play after not building off that huge win over Spain on Sunday.
Hezonja made the most of his 24 minutes off the bench. Super Mario dropped 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block on 6-of-9 shooting (4-of-6 on 3s). Eleven of those points came in the second half (8 in the fourth). Mario also threw down a thunderous jam.
That’s a nice shot chart.
Three-pointers were the difference. Argentina shot 12-of-32 from deep, and Croatia was just 9-of-31. And remember, Mario hit four of those.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 points – which is actually low for him on this stage – on a so-so 5-of-13 shooting. Dario Saric may have tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, but his 7-of-16 shooting and questionable decision making really held his squad back. Luis Scola led Argentina with 23 points. Manu Ginobili added thirteen.
The Orlando Magic on Tuesday unveiled a brand new black alternate jersey for the 2016-2017 season. It’s unknown how many contests these will be worn. The “Stars” uniforms are the team’s 5th uniform in the rotation now to go along with their home white, road blue, alternate road black pinstripe, and the Pride uniforms. This is Adidas’ last hurrah as the NBA’s uniform provider, as Nike will take over beginning in the ’17-’18 campaign.
These are sleeveless, and remind me of many Adidas and Nike jerseys that currently exist with European club and country franchises. So I’m very comfortable with them. My first impressions? I like them a lot, and I didn’t think I could say that about a Magic jersey that doesn’t have pinstripes.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) August 9, 2016