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In celebration of the Magic’s 25th anniversary season and to honor the rich history of Orlando Magic basketball, the team will don the original jersey, the signature black, pinstriped jersey with throwback team logos worn through the 1989-94 seasons starting with the January 4 matchup with the Miami Heat. The team also featured the jerseys through the 1998 season as an alternate. The original Magic jersey design was worn by Magic greats including Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson, Horace Grant, Darrell Armstrong and Scott Skiles.
There’s a time for objective analysis, and there’s a time for things that are too awesome for stoicism. The Orlando Magic wearing their “black, pinstriped jersey[s]” is of the latter category. They’re among the greatest jerseys ever, and, given the general reaction on Twitter being an emphatic embrace of the news, they’re fondly remembered.
The reason, I’m willing to wager, stretches back to the talent and level of play of those Shaq and Penny years. For a fair share of basketball fans around the country, Orlando became a national team. Those teams were the very definition of entertaining. Don’t forget about Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson and Horace Grant in these same styled jerseys — with Grant accentuating them with matching Rec Specs. Scott Skiles donned them, too.
Many fans have first loves, but Orlando provided an outlet in lean years and an entertaining alternative on off nights. That effect seems even more pronounced in regions far removed from an NBA city, where geographical affiliation becomes nebulous and rooting for a team either hundreds or thousands of miles away seems an equal choice.*
*Alternate explanation: people like the jerseys because they look really good. And in an age of endless glasses without lenses, surely someone on the Magic can rock some non-prescription Rec Specs, right? I’m looking at you, Tobias Harris.
And, fair weather or bandwagon as it might be, I think the Magic will gain quite a few fans as they once again don these gorgeous jerseys. Even if it’s just for the few nights that they are so adorned, it’s a chance to show the entertaining side of the 2013-14 Orlando squad. Nikola Vucevic is a mountain of a man who devours souls and rebounds alike. Victor Oladipo seems more adept at initiating offense and creating his own looks with every game. Arron Afflalo continues his bid to make the All-Star Game. Glen Davis does Glen Davis things, and all that entails.
In an age of expanding League Pass access (and other not-so-legitimate means), the era of the national team is alive and well. The Magic will draw curious viewers with their selection of attire. Keeping them curious is the new task at hand.