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ESPN 30 for 30 'This Magic Moment' TV Schedule and Documentary Preview

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 14 Apr 2016

Before Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant became arguably the NBA's most lethal duo with the Oklahoma City Thunder,Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal looked to be building a dynasty with the Orlando Magic.The arc of the 1990s Magic will be the subject of ESPN's newest 30 for 30 documentary, This Magic Moment. Directors Gentry Kirby and Erin Leyden interviewed both Hardaway and O'Nealin addition to others around the team to get the firsthand account of Orlando's wildly successful run and ultimate decline.When: Thursday, April 14, at 9 p.m. ETWatch: ESPNThe timing of the documentary is somewhat coincidental, coming less than a week after Sam Hinkie resigned as the Philadelphia 76ers' general manager and president of basketball operations. The way in which Hinkie wanted to build the Sixers isn't altogether different from how the Magic became an NBA title contender.Through their first three years in the NBA, Orlando won .398 percent of its games. The Magic lost a lot of games, but they also collected a slew of lottery picks. They didn't hit a home run every timesee Bison Delebut they selected Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson, both of whom would go on to be key players over the next decade.Then, everything changed in 1992. The Magic won the lottery, which meant winning the chance to draft Shaq first overall. He averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game as a rookie, and Orlando went 41-41.Missing out on the playoffs via tiebreaker proved to be a blessing in disguise as the Magic won the draft lottery for a second year in a rowhaving gone in with a 1.5 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick. The NBA subsequently weighted the lottery differently as a result.Orlando selected Chris Webber, but immediately traded him to the Golden State Warriors for Hardaway.The Magic reeled off four straight playoff appearances between 1994 and 1997, reaching the 1995 NBA Finals and losing in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals.Whereas O'Neal's arrival galvanized the organization, his departure in the 1996 offseason signaled the beginning of the end for Orlando's magicalpun intendedrun. Not only was the 23-year-old among the NBA's best players, he was a historically dominant big man.According to Basketball-Reference.com's play index, O'Neal was one of just five players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks a game through their first four years:The New York Times' Malcolm Moran reported at the time O'Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for seven years and $121 million.In an oral history about the 1990s Magic written by Jonathan Abrams for Grantland, the legendary center explained how Los Angeles swooped in to get his signature:The [Magic] had [an offer of] 80 [million] and then they put up billboards [that] said, "No man's worth $100 million. [Lakers general manager] Jerry West said, "I'll give you whatever you want." And then, the crazy thing is, I was going to come back [to Orlando] and get the 80. That's when Juwan Howard got [$101 million] and [Alonzo] Mourning got 105. So we called [Magic executive John Gabriel] up and John wasn't talking right, and [West] said, "Hey, right now we can give you 98, but we can probably get you some things on the side." He called me laterabout three in the morningand said, "We're going to get you 120. I said, "I'll meet you over there."Scott explained the impact the Magic's failure to re-sign O'Neal had: "That let me know and it let all the basketball people knowthis small town Orlando don't know basketball.""Knowing what I know now, I would've stayed," said O'Neal in March 2015 after being inducted into the team's Hall of Fame, per the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins. "I would've stayed and fulfilled my seven years and then looked at it differently after my seventh year."The Magic attempted to replace Shaq with Rony Seikaly, and the results were predictably bad. Orlando won 15 fewer games in 1996-97 and exited the playoffs in the first round. It didn't help that Hardaway missed 23 games, a trend which would continue over the remainder of his NBA career.Those interviewed by Abrams explained how the team rebelled against then-head coach Brian Hill during the '96-97 season, forcing his ouster. Hardaway then clashed with new head coach Chuck Daly, with the Orlando Sentinel's Larry Guest sharing an anecdote to sum up their relationship:Daly opted out, even though he had two more years on his contract for some pretty good money. I was there at Daly's house an hour or so after he announced that he was hanging it up. Penny sent over roses to Terry, who is Chuck Daly's wife. [When] she [learned] it was from [Hardaway], she took the flowers and put them right in the trash. That was a pretty vivid indication of how Penny was regarded in the Daly household.Had Shaq stayed with the Magic and Hardaway stayed healthy, Orlando, rather than the Lakers, could've been the most dominant franchise of the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially as the team's rise would've timed perfectly with the end of the Chicago Bulls' dynasty.Instead, the Magic are a case study in unfulfilled potential and expectations.For good and bad, ThisMagic Moment will allow fans in Orlando to relive the experience all over again.
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