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From 2007 to 2012, the Orlando Magic were a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Over those five seasons, they won 65.7 percent of their regular season games, represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals once, raised three Southeast Division banners, and posted a playoff record of 31-28 (.525 winning percentage) — all of which was the culmination of Stan Van Gundy’s revolutionizing 3-heavy attack.
Before Van Gundy’s arrival, the Magic were stuck in mediocrity, but the pieces were in place to build something special and that is exactly what he did. Their offense and defense was centered around Dwight Howard, and the front office played to his strengths and weaknesses by surrounding him with players who could space the floor. Van Gundy then utilized those pieces in the best way possible, making Rashard Lewis a stretch four — one of the first the NBA had ever seen — and giving Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu free reigns as playmakers, which helped them develop into the most potent pick-and-roll team in the Association.
Sadly, all good things eventually come to an end and the honeymoon period came to a close quickly for the Magic. First, a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals the season following their triumphant run to the Finals, and then back-to-back first round exits in the seasons after. As a result, the franchise parted ways with Stan Van Gundy and his 3-point happy system in the summer of 2012 when their disgruntled star wanted a change, and soon after the dominos started to fall.
Rashard Lewis had already parted ways with the team at that point — they replaced him with another stretch four in Ryan Anderson — but in the months leading up to Van Gundy’s dismissal, rumors swirled around about teammates butting heads in the locker room. It didn’t take long for the rest of the roster to shake out.