The Orlando Magic of the early 2000s was a prime example of an excellent what-if team that eventually didn’t work out. Tracy McGrady was already in his prime and had many more years in the tank to possibly win a championship with the Magic. However, no matter how great he was on the court individually, he couldn’t get out of the first round of playoffs.
The Magic decided to add Grant Hill to this team, but he was always struggling with injuries he picked up while still playing for the Detroit Pistons. Unfortunately, that kept him from being a constant contributor for the Magic since he only played in 47 games.
Orlando’s front office was heavily recruiting Tim Duncan, who was already a champion with the San Antonio Spurs and one of the best players in the league at that time. After a meeting with the Magic’s management, Duncan was very close to joining the team. There were, however, a couple of factors that tip the things in a different direction.
One of the most prominent stories was when Doc Rivers denied Tim Duncan’s request to allow his family on the team plane. That is the story that was well known before it caught the public’s attention.
According to Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan’s longtime teammate with the Spurs the chances of seeing that happen were far closer than anybody realized.
“One thing Gregg Popovich didn’t do was screw it up with Tim Duncan. I remember when Tim was a free agent, he was thinking about going to Orlando when Doc was there. … When Tim went out to meet with Orlando, he asked, ‘can the family come on the flights to some games?’ From what I understand, Doc said no, and that’s when he lost Tim Duncan”Bruce Bowen
Orlando Magic had a real shot at Duncan, and this deal was incredibly close to becoming a reality. Unfortunately for Magic fans, it was lost because Rivers didn’t want to fulfill Duncan’s request to be closer to his family. It’s not often that a franchise misses an opportunity to lose out one of the greatest NBA history players because of not willing to bend the rules just a bit.
Imagine the team Magic could have had with Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, and Tim Duncan on the same team. On top of that, they had some solid bench players in Darryl Armstrong, Bo Outlaw, and a rookie Mike Miller.
We’ll never know what could have happened if Tim Duncan signed with Orlando. McGrady, Hill, and Duncan would make a quite formidable Big 3; however, there’s no telling if they could have won it all during those years.