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Ranking the 5 best seasons in Orlando Magic history

Ranking the 5 best seasons in Orlando Magic history

The Orlando Magic have had their fair share of ups and downs in their relatively short history. However, since the franchise was established in 1989, they have provided their fans with some unforgettable seasons. From the early success of Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway to the dominant play of Dwight Howard in the late 2000s, the Magic have had some remarkable teams.

The Magic have had quite a bit of lottery luck, landing the No. 1 pick in 1992 (which allowed them to select O'Neal), 1993 (which allowed them to pick Chris Webber and trade him to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks), 2004 (which allowed them to select Howard) and 2022 (which allowed them to draft Paolo Banchero). 

The current Magic squad has fans in Orlando excited about the future, with a core of Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz among others. But today, let's look back at the past and examine the five best seasons in franchise history.

5. 2007-08 SEASON
RECORD: 52-30
FINISH: LOST IN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

This season, the Magic won 52 games and finished as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. The team was led by a 22-year-old Dwight Howard, who earned his second All-Star selection while emerging as a two-way force. During the regular season, Howard averaged 20.7 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, while shooting 59.9% from the field. He was even more dominant in the playoffs, averaging 18.9 points, 15.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. Orlando defeated the Toronto Raptors in five games in the first round, but they were ultimately eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This season laid the groundwork for Orlando's Finals run in 2008-09.

4. 2009-10 SEASON
RECORD: 59-23
FINISH: LOST IN CONFERENCE FINALS

Despite coming off of an NBA Finals run, the Magic decided to make some big changes entering this 2009-19 season. Orlando acquired Vince Carter in a blockbuster trade with the New Jersey Nets and added some new role players in Matt Barnes, Jason Williams, Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass. The Magic won 59 games, which was the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Orlando was once again led by Howard, who earned his second-straight Defensive Player of the Year award. The Magic were dominant through the first two rounds of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks. But in the Eastern Conference Finals, they faced off against the Boston Celtics and lost in six games. Still, their regular-season success and deep postseason run cannot be overlooked.

3. 1995-96 SEASON
RECORD: 60-22
FINISH: LOST IN CONFERENCE FINALS

The 1995-96 season was another successful year for the Magic. The team finished with a record of 60-22, which was the second-best in the Eastern Conference and is still the franchise record for most wins in a single season. Led by one of the best one-two punches in the league in Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, Orlando went 7-1 through the first two rounds of the 1996 NBA Playoffs, eliminating the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks with ease. But in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Magic ran into Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who got their revenge from the previous year by sweeping Orlando.

2. 2008-09 SEASON
RECORD: 59-23
FINISH: LOST IN NBA FINALS

This team was ahead of its time, as Stan Van Gundy surrounded Dwight Howard with shooters and made teams pick their poison. The Magic had a terrific core of Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson, plus excellent role players such as Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Mickael Pietrus, J.J. Redick and Marcin Gortat. Orlando's run in the 2009 NBA Playoffs was incredible, as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics (led by the Big Three) and Cleveland Cavaliers (led by LeBron James). Until this year, the Magic were the only team to defeat James in a Conference Finals series. In the NBA Finals, the Magic matched up against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, ultimately losing in five games. What if Courtney Lee hits the game-winning layup at the end of Game 2 in the 2009 NBA Finals? That's one of the biggest "what ifs" among Magic fans to this day.

1. 1994-95 SEASON
RECORD: 57-25
FINISH: LOST IN NBA FINALS

The 1994-95 season was the most successful season in the Magic's franchise history. Shaquille O'Neal was virtually unstoppable, averaging 29.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 blocks, while shooting 58.3% from the field. Penny Hardaway was excellent as well, averaging an efficient 20.9 points, 7.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals on 51.2/34.9/76.9 shooting splits. The team won 57 games, which was the best record in the East. Prior to the 1995 NBA Finals, the Magic became the only team to eliminate Michael Jordan in the playoffs during the 1990s, beating Chicago in six games in the Conference Semifinals. Jordan came out of retirement midseason and the Magic spoiled his return. After defeating the Indiana Pacers in seven games in the Conference Finals, the Magic faced off against the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals. Hakeem Olajuwon put up 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals per game and helped the Rockets sweep the Magic. Still, the Magic's run to the Finals was nothing short of spectacular.

While the Magic have not won an NBA championship, they have had some great seasons and provided their fans with plenty of memorable moments. 

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