We at Orlando Magic UK take a look back at legends that have worn the Pinstripes across the years since the team started playing into he NBA back in 1989.
In our first instalment we focus on the first player to be recognised as a member of the Orlando Magic, and he was recently our guest on Episode 25 of our podcast “Penny for your Thoughts”
He was taken as the first draft pick in franchise history with the eleventh pick of the 1989 NBA draft.
Nick was born in Chicago, Illinois on the 20th January 1968, he attended Simeon Career Academy (High School) where he was named “Illinois Mr Basketball” in 1986. He then enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign for two years playing there for the Fighting Illini between 1987 and 1989. Nick was part for the team who reached the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 1989 before losing to the eventual winners the Michigan Wolverines 83-81. Nick declared for the NBA draft in 1989 where he was picked by the Magic with the 11th selection.
The University of Illinois have had great success in developing talent with many players making the jump to the NBA, Kendall Gill a team mate of Anderson’s being drafted in 1990. Many others have come through the system that include Derek Harper, Deron Williams, Brian Cook and Myers Leonard to name but a few. The Magic as an expansion team struggled in its infancy but whilst results on the court weren’t what we had wished, there was a few bright spots. Anderson certainly was one of these averaging 11.5 points in his rookie year and this increased year on year with his season high averages coming in the 91/92 and 92/93 years when he averaged 19.9 points per game. Orlando during the early years gathered many key players who would feature heavily in the Deep playoff runs in the Mid 90’s accumulating Denis Scott in 1990, Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 and then acquiring Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway in 1993 via the trade of number one pick Chris Webber to the Golden State Warriors!
Anderson remained a key part of the team and particularly the offense as a 3rd option behind stars Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal but he did have some huge outputs!! In a game at New Jersey he scored Fifty points from the bench. But the game was remembered for Shaq bringing down the basket and not Nicks career night.
During the 94/95 Eastern Conference Semi finals at the end of game 1 we saw what is probably considered the greatest play in Magic history! The Magic down 1 with under 10 seconds to go, the Chicago Bulls gave Michael Jordan the ball. He advanced the ball and was stripped by Nick Anderson who knocked the ball to Penny Hardaway who ran the floor bounced the ball to Grant who dunked it in to give the Magic the lead and eventually a 1-0 lead. Nick proved how important he was to the team in this series against Chicago and against the Pacers in the East Finals. Had Nick not been on the team we wouldn’t have made the NBA Finals. The Magic eventually succumb to the Rockets in the 95 finals.
Anderson remained a key member of the Magic for many years after this, making key contributions to the ball club. In fact my favourite Anderson moment came upon Shaqs return in Laker colours. The boo birds were on Shaq at every opportunity which created a playoff atmosphere. The game would come down to the final seconds with the Lakers ahead 94-93 in a back and forth contest. The play was run for Anderson which resulted in Nick draining a three with little over 7 seconds left to give the Magic a 96-94 lead and eventual win!! That game for me was so important and the moment I fell in love with Magic Basketball… to beat Shaq on his return to the O-Rena after the way he left the Magic in 1996. And the chicken dance after he made the three!! All on National Television!!
The lockout shortened 98/99 season would be Nicks final season as a player with the Magic, the Magic had a very successful season finishing third in the East however we lost 3-1 to the young Philadelphia 76ers led by Allen Iversen. We entered a rebuild with Nick departing for Sacramento and other key players Penny Hardaway and Horace Grant moving elsewhere too. He had two seasons playing with Chris Webber, Jason Williams and Peja Stojakovic before moving on following a trade to the Memphis Grizzlies where he played his final 15 games. Nick retired finishing with career stats of 14.4ppg, 5.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals in 800 games.
Nick now works for the Magic as a Community ambassador and a commentator for Fox Sports Florida during the Magic’s pre-game, halftime and post-game shows alongside Dante Marchitelli.
We here at Orlando Magic UK consider Nick a true face of the franchise, a leader on the court and off the court in the Central Florida community. One of the greatest players to ever put on the Magic uniform, and long for the day management retire Number 25 to the rafters where it belongs!!!
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Check out our podcast Penny For Your Thoughts.
In the latest episode we have one the greatest Orlando Magic players ever, being joined by Orlando Magic Hall of Famer, NICK ANDERSON! We talk about the 1995 Playoff series against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, the famous ‘Steal from Michael Jordan’, being the first draft pick in Magic history and a lots, lots more… you will definitely enjoy this episode.
All episodes of the podcast are available on the following platforms:
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