The Orlando Magic are named after Disney
The Orlando Magic hit the court in 1989, the first major American pro-sports franchise in the Orlando area, which grew exponentially since 1971 with the opening of Walt Disney World. The jewel of the resort is the amusement park’s Magic Kingdom. When Orlando got its team, “Magic” was a perfectly logical and geographically appropriate name — as opposed to, say, how the Lakers kept its name after moving to LA from Minnesota, “the land of 10,000 lakes.”
But the Orlando Magic aren’t named after Disney’s theme park. According to the NBA, Orlando businessman Jim Hewitt and ex-Philadelphia 76ers GM Pat Williams met in the mid-1980s about bringing a basketball team to Orlando. They figured the city would look more attractive to the league if they’d already picked a name. So, the duo got the Orlando Sentinel to hold a “name the team” contest.
After receiving over 4,000 entries, a committee narrowed the choices to the Tropics, the Juice, the Heat (the Miami Heat didn’t exist yet), and the Magic. Before the committee made its decision, Williams’ seven-year-old daughter, Karyn, came down for a visit. As she boarded her plane at the trip’s end, she reflected on her experience in Orlando. “I really like this place,” she said. “This place is like magic.”
Williams made sure the committee took Karyn’s comment into consideration. And it’s the idea that ultimately won when Orlando officially got its NBA franchise in 1987.