Kia’s New Partnership with the NBA is Pure Magic

December 20th, 2023 by

The Amway Center, Orlando’s premier downtown entertainment destination – and home of the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic – is going by a new name starting today. This morning, on December 20th, the team officially announced the Amway Center is henceforth to be called the Kia Center.

The Kia Center is a fairly new complex, having opened in October 2010. It will be the first time in the Magic’s history that the arena’s naming rights have gone to anyone other than Amway. Their original home venue, the Amway Arena, was built in 1989, and Amway retained naming rights when the team announced the new arena in 2009. Today that changes for the first time in 34 years.

In addition to the Magic, the Kia Center will host games for National Arena League team the Orlando Predators, as well as the Orlando Solar Bears of the mid-level professional ice hockey league the ECHL.  The arena also hosts numerous concerts throughout the year, with past performers ranging from Elton John to Travis Scott.

But the Orlando Magic, one of the rising teams in the NBA, is the jewel in the crown here for Kia. Read on to learn a bit more about the Magic’s franchise history and why the turnaround they’re currently experiencing might be no illusion.

Magical History Tour

The Magic began their life as one of two expansion teams in 1989 (the other being the Minnesota Timberwolves). They’d proceed to make two NBA Finals appearances (winning neither) behind the play of two dominant franchise centers: Shaquille O’Neal in 1995 and Dwight Howard in 2009. Coincidentally, both big men would later be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

After trading Howard in 2012, the franchise searched for a new direction, to little success. Though they made back-to-back playoff appearances in 2019 and 2020, they were quickly dispatched in the first round both times. You could even argue that the franchise’s highlight during this era was the dunk contest performance put on by star Aaron Gordon in 2016 (which Gordon still wound up losing, to the Bulls’ Zach LaVine).

After bottoming out during the pandemic-shortened 2020-’21 season with a record of 21-51, the Magic were compensated with the fifth pick in the NBA draft, which they used to select Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs. The following year, after a 22-60 campaign, they were awarded the draft’s top pick and walked away with Duke star Paulo Banchero.

The State of the Magic

It’s a good time to get into business with the Orlando Magic, one of the NBA’s most exciting young franchises. After undergoing a rebuild that began in 2020, Orlando’s ascent has begun in earnest. Nearly a third of the way through the NBA’s regular season, the team sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 16-9 – comfortably ahead of even the most optimistic projections.

Along with Banchero and Suggs, the Magic’s youth movement is complemented by forward Franz Wagner (the eighth pick in 2021) and sixth man guard Cole Anthony (pick 15 in 2020). Banchero and Wagner are both averaging 20 points per game, while Suggs is enjoying the best shooting season of his young career. Thrillingly, all four players are 23 years of age or younger.

But the difference between previous iterations of the young Magic and this year’s squad might be the team’s depth. In addition to their Core Four, Orlando also has Franz’s older brother Mo Wagner coming off their bench, alongside proven veterans such as Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac. (Though he’s currently injured, the Magic have also taken on a reclamation project in former number one draft pick Markelle Fultz, which has started to pay some dividends.)

Orlando is still looking up at Boston, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia in the East standings – three teams with championship aspirations and tons of playoff experience between them. In comparison, this Magic team is inexperienced, unproven… and maybe just hungry enough where that won’t make a difference.

Time will tell whether the Magic are a year ahead of schedule or ready to compete with the big boys immediately. But for the first time in over a decade, projecting the Magic’s future requires no sleight of hand – making this the perfect time for Kia to get in on the ride.

Make Your Next Vehicle a Slam Dunk

Every trip to Steven Kia is a no-doubt swish thanks to our comprehensive, ever-evolving inventory of new and used vehicles. Get in today and check out our exciting lineup, from the hybrid SUV the 2023 Niro to the all-electric EV9.

The Orlando Magic may be a few years away from true championship contention, but after four straight first-round exits dating back to 2011, the crystal ball is less cloudy than it was before. Meanwhile, you’ll leave Steven Kia feeling like an immediate champion – and your future is whatever you choose to make it.

Posted in KIA News