It's been a long, dusty road... But Orlando Magic basketball is back!
That's evidenced by the fanbase's palpable energy after the dramatic 104-101 Game One win in Toronto.
Look how Wall Street in downtown Orlando erupted after Magic point guard D.J. Augustin nailed the go-ahead 3 with seconds remaining...
(Click to watch the video below)
Frankly, the Magic are really fun to watch again after 7 years of mediocrity.
And it flies in the face of all the naysayers.
Magic have been deemed underdogs...
They've been disrespected...
And worse, they've largely been ignored...
You see, no one outside of Orlando believes in this team.
But here's the thing...
I'm convinced the players feed off it all.
D.J. Augustin may say he doesn't care and "has never cared" what people say about him, but man o man, it seemed like he was getting a load off his shoulders after hitting the eventual game-winner.
"We've been doubted our whole season," Augustin said after the game. "But we've always believed in each other. We're a family."
And oh by the way, Augustin scored 25 points in the victory.
His counterpart, Kyle Lowry, a 5-time NBA All-Star, went scoreless.
In short, I think the Magic are playing with a chip on their shoulder and nothing to lose.
Toronto, on the other hand, is playing with quite literally EVERYTHING to lose.
Their superstar, Kahwi Leonard, could depart this offseason via free agency. So could starting center Marc Gasol and sharpshooter Danny Green.
So their fans may start to panic a bit (especially if the Raptors get down early in Game Two).
So I think it's critically important Orlando gets out to a roaring start on Tuesday.
Make Toronto panic!
In short, if you haven't watched any (or much) Magic basketball this season, you're going to want to now.
This team has become must-see TV.
Best of all... Magic basketball is incredibly fun to watch again.
I expect Tuesday night's watch party at Wall Street for Game Two to be even more of a madhouse, now that fans are fired up.
I'll be there again hoping you'll all join in for the fun. (Gates open at 7pm, game starts at 8pm.)
David Baumann in a Sports Columnist for 407area.com and can be heard Tuesdays at 7:30 on EK Sports, 96.9 The Game. He can be seen Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 on Spectrum Sports 360, Spectrum channel 13.