In honor of their 25th anniversary season, the Orlando Magic will celebrate Horace Grant on January 17th in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Grant is the 7th Magic to be honored during these “Legend Nights.” Previous honorees include Tracy McGrady, Nick Anderson, Pat Williams, Jim Hewitt, Dennis Scott, and Pat Garrity. “The General” as he was known for his commanding presence and leadership on the court was easily identifiable by fans throughout the league for his rugged play and trademark protective eye-wear.
Grant is a 17-year NBA veteran who began his career in 1987 with the Chicago Bulls. He teamed with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to win three NBA championships before Jordan’s first retirement. After making his first all-star game during the ’93-’94 season, Grant left the Bulls in free agency to join the upstart Orlando Magic. Grant’s interior presence immediately helped the young Magic find their identity. With Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, that team finished the season with 57 wins and the best offense in the league (scoring over 110 points per game). They made the NBA finals but were swept by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. Still the future looked bright.
Grant’s arrival marked the start of a heated rivalry with the Chicago Bulls. Nothing sparks tensions in sports like a turn-coat, and the Magic were more than happy to steal Grant away from Chicago. After defeating the Bulls in the conference semi-finals during Grant’s first Magic season, the Orlando had to contend with Jordan’s return during the next season. The Bulls eventually swept Orlando in the Conference Finals, although the series was much more competitive than the numbers suggest. Unfortunately the rivalry was short lived. Shaq left for Los Angeles that summer, and Hardaway began his career long struggle with injuries during the season after that.
Orlando fans will always remember Grant’s career fondly. He helped the Magic reach the NBA finals for the first time in team history, and even rejoined the team for two more seasons from 2000-2002. While his career averages of 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game underestimate his effectiveness, Magic fans understand his value. His long career was marked by hard work, toughness, and winning, something all sports fans can appreciate.
What do you think? What was your favorite memory of Horace Grant? Let us know in the comments section below!