ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Today, the Orlando Magic announed that it will induct Orlando Magic “founding father” Jimmy Hewitt into its Hall of Fame on March 29.
Hewitt becomes the sixth inductee into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame. Other inductees are: Nick Anderson, Pat Williams, Shaquille O’Neal, Rich DeVos and Penny Hardaway.
Hewitt, an Orlando native, was the architect for the Magic – he dreamed it, believed it, conceived it, and nurtured it into a reality. The idea blossomed in 1985 a year after Hewitt met Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams when he heard the then-Philadelphia 76ers general manager speak at a Texas function. Becoming fast friends, Williams reached out to Hewitt when he was in Orlando a year later speaking at a local basketball clinic and it was on that drive back to the airport that Williams presented the question to Hewitt – “which location in Florida would be the best location for a potential NBA franchise – Miami, Tampa or Jacksonville?” Hewitt uttered the proud, passionate words that would forever change Central Florida, “Orlando is the place to be.”
When Hewitt convinced Williams to leave the 76ers and lead the charge to bring an NBA franchise to Orlando the team was on its way. On July 27, 1986 Hewitt, Williams and then-Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick presented NBA Commissioner David Stern with a $100,000 check, a set of Mickey Mouse ears and the Magic was born. On April 22, 1987, the NBA Board of Governors granted an expansion franchise to Orlando, and on December 22, 1988, the Magic sold their 10,000th season ticket, thus fulfilling their commitment to the NBA. The Magic tipped-off its very first NBA game in Orlando on October 13, 1989 and the city was electric. Professional sports in Orlando had arrived.
“No one person or player had a greater impact on the future of sports in Orlando than Jimmy,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “He is the reason we are here and we are forever grateful to him for his vision, perseverance and belief that ‘Orlando is the place to be.’ He truly is the ‘founding father’ of the Orlando Magic. We are honored to induct Jimmy Hewitt into the Magic Hall of Fame.”
“It wasn’t me,” Hewitt says humbly. “It was the people of this city coming together for a common cause. I am just blessed to have been a part of the effort.”
Hewitt will be honored during the Orlando Magic’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m.
Florida National News reporter Willie David can be reached at williedavid@FloridaNationalNews.com