How the Magic Came to Orlando
Pat Williams stepped up to the podium to address the Orlando media. “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news,” said Williams. “We’re in the chase, but we’re way behind.” The idea of the Orlando Magic was born in the public’s heart that morning, but the journey had just begun.
Pat Williams met Jimmy Hewitt in 1984 when Hewitt heard him speaking at a function in Tulsa. By pure serendipity, their paths crossed at the First Presbyterian Church in Orlando a year later. Williams, in his 11th year with the Philadelphia 76ers, had heard rumblings of the potential for an NBA expansion. While mulling over the possibility of leaving his position as general manager in an effort to be a part of something new and exciting, Pat had begun considering locations in Florida, namely Tampa and Miami. When Jimmy heard that Pat was considering Tampa or Miami, he said, “The future of Florida is here, Bubba.” Pat was dubious, especially because Orlando’s arena was still only in its blue print stage. However, he was convinced by Jimmy and Mayor Bill Frederick that the Arena could be fast tracked if there was a possibility of getting a professions sports team in Orlando. Pat flew from the airport with the growing belief that Orlando might be ready for the NBA.
All that would have to wait as Pat Williams was still under contract to run the 76ers in the 1985-1986 season. With Coach Matt Guokas, a name every Magic fan is familiar with, and a star-studded lineup featuring Moses Malone, a young Charles Barkley, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Maurice Cheeks, Williams knew he had a good chance at another title run. Unfortunately, their shot a championship ended when Dr. J missed a last second shot against the Milwaukee Bucks in the game 7 of the Semi-Conference Finals. Despite the fact that the 76ers had the number one first round pick and a great group of players, Williams knew it was time to migrate south.