Orlando has been the home of numerous impressive dunkers since the city received a franchise in 1989. From electric guards who possessed the ability to elevate over larger opponents to ferocious big men utilizing their brute force to dominate the paint, the Magic organization has had a rich, albeit brief, history of the simple art of slamming an orange ball through a iron rim.
With all the drama that has surrounded the franchise, the fans in Orlando must not take for granted the large amount of success their team has witnessed over the course of its life. While the franchise has never brought home an elusive championship, the team has put Orlando on the basketball map a plethora of times, including two NBA Finals appearances.
In the end, what I am trying to get at is, in the midst of all the hate, at least the city of O-Town doesn't have to cheer for fellow small-market teams like the Charlotte Bobcats or Toronto Raptors. So, let's pay homage to the organization, in addition all of the players that have made this franchise so wonderful over the last few decades, and rank the best dunkers in this franchise's history.
Penny Hardaway was the heart and should of the Orlando Magic in the 1990's.
The unconventionally tall point guard, as the third overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft was listed at a whopping 6'7", took the league by storm, racking up the individual awards quickly in a brief span. Hardaway was a four-time All-Star (1995-98), named twice to the All-NBA first team (1995-96) and once to the All-NBA third team (1997).
Simply put, Hardaway's facilitating and scoring abilities, coupled with his intriguing height, made him a perfect candidate to be compared to Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson. If that doesn't tell you how talented this former Orlando guard was, I don't know what will.
Penny was on top of the NBA world, but in an instant, his legacy was tarnished.
Injuries, mainly to his left knee, started to plague the guard, gradually decreasing his effectiveness on the court. Hardaway would become a shade of his former self by the 1999 season, only six years after being drafted.
The major part of his game that would take a hit was his remarkable athleticism. While Magic may have been the more skilled player, Hardaway was leaps and bounds more athletic. Penny was known for his agile and creative slams that would often appear in just ordinary games.
It truly is a shame that injuries derailed his promising career.
*Hint: This injury theme will appear a few more times before this slideshow is over.
Steve Francis, despite being nicknamed "Stevie Franchise," barely left a mark on the city of Orlando in his one-year tenure with the team. After being essentially swapped for Tracy McGrady by the Houston Rockets, Francis' tenure in Blue and White was quite a disappointment.
Nonetheless, Francis did manage to perform some nasty dunks. Sure, the inconsistent point guard was considered the cliché ball hog by the Magic community, but the 6'3" point guard had major hops and wasn't afraid to slam on larger defenders or even showboat at the end of games.
Francis, though, didn't rely solely on athleticism to create magnificent slams, but also was quite creative. He would often use the backboard even in games.
While everybody questioned his character, nobody questioned his dunking ability.
Darell Armstrong was widely considered the emotional leader of the Orlando Magic from his first days with the franchise in 1995 to the close of his tenure with the team in 2003.
The tiny floor general was never the most talented basketball player, as his personal bests with the squad were 16 points (1999-00) and seven assist (2000-01) per game. Armstrong's stats don't tell the whole story of his contributions, as he played relentless defense and always left his heart on the court.
In many ways, Armstrong plays similar to current guard Jameer Nelson, who has been a borderline star in Orlando for many years now. Sure, Armstrong was the better defender, but Nelson possessed a more polished offensive game.
The one main difference between the two, though, is Armstrong's incredible dunking prowess. Despite his microscopic, for NBA standards, 6'0" stature, the facilitator would fly across the sky and blissfully slam the ball into the hoop.
With the exception of his performance in the 1996 NBA slam dunk contest, arguably the worst showing of all-time, he would be competing for the top spot on this slideshow.
Tracy McGrady's tenure in Orlando was exciting, but also underwhelming. Paired with Grant Hill, a former Duke star with huge expectations, the Magic were beginning to form a dynasty behind their two young guards.
Injuries, though, would eliminate any championship runs from occurring.
Hill would succumb to numerous lower leg issues, including numerous ankle problems, and Tracy McGrady would battle all kinds of physical ailments, mainly in his knees.
McGrady, despite missing a plethora of court action during his time in Orlando, would draw comparisons to former Magic star Penny Hardaway.
Not only did both men done the No. 1 on their respective jerseys, stand at a lanky 6'7", battled injuries throughout their careers and helped contribute immensely in the scoring department, but McGrady and Hardaway could throw down some nasty slams.
If you thought Hardaway's dunks were impressive, just take a look at a highlight of his successor.
Expect anyone else?
As an Orlando Magic fan—if you're not one, then there is a nifty red icon with an X on the top left of your browser you should probably click—you are most likely tired of reading articles about Dwight Howard.
Digress your hate for a few minutes and just appreciate the ridiculous slams Howard has performed during his tenure with the Orlando Magic.
Starting in 2004, after the team drafted him with the first overall pick, no player has awed the crowd more than "Superman" himself.
After all, Howard stands at 6'11" inches, not your prototypical miraculous dunker height. Nonetheless, the center has dazzled, and spoiled, us with his amazing athletic feats.
Does it make up for the torment that he made the NBA community go through? Absolutely not, but that doesn't mean we can't watch highlights of the All-NBA talent at work.
Trevor Ariza: Often labeled the next Tracy McGrady, Ariza performed a fair share of awesome slams. However, he was never very consistent on the offensive side of the floor, as he specialized at locking down his opponent.
Shaquille O'Neal: Shaq may be the original "Superman", but he falls short to his successor in the dunking category. Sure, O'Neal's slams literally broke backboards, but there is little creativity or diversity present.
Otis Smith: Smith may be known as the one who destroyed Orlando's chances of keeping Dwight Howard, but he also was quite the dunker during his playing days. He even performed in the NBA slam dunk contest in 1988.
Jason Richardson: The two-time NBA slam dunk champion couldn't glide through the air as majestically when he arrived to Orlando due to his advanced age. Richardson would be relegated to a three-point shooting role.
Vince Carter: Much like Richardson, Carter would not perform many crazy slams in Orlando due to his older age. Instead, Carter would shoot numerous contested shots per night and would lose his ability to finish consistently at the rim.
Shawn Kemp: Arriving in 2002-03, Kemp was entering the twilight of his career. He was overweight, slow and didn't possess the hops that made him a household name in Seattle. In fact, Kemp may have never even posterized anyone the entire season, but in honor of one of the greatest dunkers of all-time, I must include him on this list.
Corey Maggette: Maggette spent only his rookie season in Orlando, but his dunking ability was on full display for the city of Orlando to see.