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LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 17: Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic participates in the Sprite Slam Dunk Competition during NBA All-Star Weekend on February 17, 2007 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the term and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

In celebration of the NBA’s 75th anniversary, Bally Sports — throughout the season — will look back on the standout players, influential figures and memorable moments that helped shape the league. Sandeep Chandok chooses our all-time starting five for the Orlando Magic.

The Orlando Magic’s inaugural season was in 1989-90 when the team, led by Terry Catledge and Reggie Theus, went 18-64 and received the fourth overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. They selected Dennis Scott, who would make a franchise-record 981 3-pointers in his seven seasons with the Magic. As good as Scott was, however, he didn’t crack this roster.

Orlando has had many talented players over the years, and the following stars couldn’t squeeze their way onto this list: Shaquille O’Neal, Horace Grant, Nikola Vucevic, J.J. Redick and Rashard Lewis. Each holds a special place in Magic history. And, yes, Shaq really didn’t make the cut — I’m sure you can guess which center beat him out.

With all of the All-Stars who’ve rocked the franchise’s blue and white threads, Orlando surprisingly has yet to achieve NBA championship glory in its 33 seasons, but the Magic have gotten close, making two NBA Finals appearances in 1995 and 2009. With a proper rebuild, Orlando will return to the playoffs and eventually be back in the title chase.

Here is the Magic’s all-time starting five.

Point guard: Penny Hardaway

No one else can assume the point-guard spot on this team. In 1993, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was acquired by Orlando, along with three future first-round picks, in a draft-night trade with the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Chris Webber, who the Magic selected with the No. 1 overall pick.

It was a great haul for Orlando, which wanted to pair Shaq with a young, dynamic guard in hopes of contending for a championship title. Hardaway, a big guard at 6-foot-7, played his first six NBA seasons in Orlando, making four All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams, the first of which both came during the 1994-95 season when the Magic knocked off Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the second round of the playoffs and reached the Finals for the first time in franchise history. The following season, Hardaway finished third in MVP voting and won a gold medal with Team USA at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The Memphis native is now the head coach at his alma mater, the University of Memphis. He ranks in the Magic’s all-time top 10 in points (7,018), assists (2,343) and steals (718), and he also had one of the smoothest moves we’ve ever seen.

Shooting guard: Nick Anderson

Nick Anderson is best remembered for his late-game struggles in the ’95 Finals opener against the Rockets, and it’s tough to tell them otherwise. He missed four straight free throws with 10.5 seconds left and the Magic up three, and Orlando would eventually lose Game 1 in overtime. It was a true heartbreaker for Anderson, but there’s much more to him than that one night.

Anderson came from the prestigious basketball program at Chicago’s Simeon High, which also produced Len Bias, Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker. He played 10 of his 13 NBA seasons in Orlando, averaging 15.4 points, 5.3 boards, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals. He shot 36% on 3-pointers with the Magic and has the second-most 3-pointers in franchise history with 900. He also ranks second in field goals (4,075) and points (10,650).

Anderson was more than just a shooter. He was a scorer — an underrated one, too.

Small forward: Tracy McGrady

McGrady is arguably the most talented player to ever hoop for the Magic (no disrespect to Shaq, who was a dominant force).

T-Mac had no weaknesses in his game. At 6-8, he was a three-level scorer with tremendous athleticism, ball-handling skills and defensive ability. In a 2019 ESPN interview featuring McGrady and the late Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba said of McGrady: “He could do everything I could do, but he was taller.” That’s high praise coming from the five-time champ.

McGrady signed with Orlando as a free agent in the summer of 2000. He quickly made his presence felt, increasing his scoring average from 15.4 to 26.8 in his first season and winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Three of McGrady’s four highest scoring averages came in his four years with the Magic, and he won back-to-back scoring titles in 2003 and 2004, averaging 32.1 points per game in 2002-03, the highest mark in franchise history. That season also included McGrady’s 14-game stretch of 30-plus points, the third-longest streak since the NBA-ABA merger.

A seven-time All-NBA selection, McGrady also holds the record for most points in a game — 62 — which came against the Washington Wizards in March 2004. It’s no surprise he ranks fourth on the Magic’s all-time scoring list with 8,298 points despite spending only four years in Orlando, and his 28.1 scoring average is tops in franchise history. McGrady also ranks in the Magic’s top 10 in rebounds (2,067), assists (1,533), steals (452) and blocks (292).

McGrady could do it all, and the “what ifs” are endless when you factor in his late-career injuries. Rest assured, he earned his spot in the Hall of Fame and in this starting five.

Power forward: Hedo Turkoglu

Apparently, players who join the Magic instantly get better. Like McGrady, Turkoglu won Most Improved Player in 2007-08, and the award came after his fourth season in Orlando when the forward boosted his averages to 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

Turkoglu was ahead of his time, too. At 6-10, he was a gifted playmaker and shooter who often played the stretch-four, and he ran pick-and-rolls as a primary ball-handler. He shot 37.9 percent on 3-pointers in his eight seasons with Orlando and ranks top-10 in points (7,216), rebounds (2,221), assists (1,927) and steals (425).

The Turkish star is the first player from his country to ever play in the NBA. He also had some good chemistry with Superman.

Center: Dwight Howard

Howard beats out Shaq at center because of the numbers he amassed in his eight seasons in Orlando.

The 2004 No. 1 overall pick ranks first in franchise history in points (11,435), rebounds (8,072), blocks (1,344) and minutes played (22,471), and he’s among the top five in field goals (4,034), steals (626) and field-goal percentage (.577). The 6-10 Howard was a six-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA first-team selection and three-time Defensive Player of the Year with the Magic.

In his 621 games with Orlando, Howard averaged 18.4 points, 13.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.2 blocks. He was an athletic phenomenon who had incredible speed and lateral movement for his size. His best individual performance took place against the Warriors on Jan. 12, 2012, when he erupted for 45 points and 23 rebounds and attempted an NBA-record 39 free throws, a feat he’s accomplished twice in his career.

Howard led the Magic to six consecutive playoff appearances from 2006 to 2012, including the 2009 NBA Finals which Orlando lost in five games to the Lakers. And even though he didn’t make the NBA’s 75th anniversary team, Howard is a definite first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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