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The Orlando Magic Are Bringing Lil' Penny to Tonight's NBA Draft Lottery

Let's Take a Nostalgic Look Back at the Nike Star's Most Iconic Moments

By Thompson Brandes ·
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Photo by Complex

The Orlando Magic have been dawning the NBA dunce cap for longer than I can remember. It’s been nearly a decade since they last made a worthwhile NBA Playoff run. And even then, their three-point barrage of a 2009 Finals team—anchored by Human Casper Mattress Dwight Howard—didn’t exactly inspire dynasty talk, as they succumbed to the Lakers in five games, giving Kobe Bryant his fourth ring in the process.

To truly reminisce on Magic lore, one must reach back to the ‘90s—to the fabled days of painstakingly young upstarts breaking backboards and conquering Jordan. Those were the polarizing teams capable of spawning 30 for 30s and perpetual debates over what could have been had fate not ended the party early.

It makes sense then, that Orlando would choose to bring their most magnetic, captivating icon from said decade as a token of good luck to tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery. No—not Shaq, nor Penny Hardaway, nor the Golden Goggle God himself, Horace Grant.

At last, Magic Co-Founder Pat Williams will be escorting Lil’ Penny to tonight’s festivities, the Chris Rock-voiced action doll and star of one of Nike’s most successful ad campaigns ever. The idea is that a little nostalgia might help capture the franchise’s next big thing. As Williams puts it, per ESPN:

"It's our version of a lucky penny. We've tried everything in the past: lucky coins, four-leaf clovers, rabbit's feet, Lucky Charms cereal. We've taken everything up there."

Can’t blame him. But before I go asking Williams how he dug the foul-mouthed figurine out my mom’s garage, let’s take a look back at the times Lil’ Penny captured both our hearts and devotion in preparation for tonight’s appearance.

The time Lil’ Penny talked mad shit at a pickup game before launching a rocket into space to impress Tyra Banks.

The time Lil’ Penny was Big Penny’s best hype man.

The time Lil’ Penny totally roasted Big Penny on the couch over a sneaker plug.

The time Lil’ Penny questioned Ken Griffey Jr.’s decision to elect a moose as his presidential running mate.

The time Lil’ Penny got a picture with Michael Jordan at his celebrity golf tournament, the Lil’ Penny Classic.

And, last but not least, the time Lil’ Penny dreamt of better times while sunbathing and drinking daiquiris by the pool.

Thompson Brandes is getting sucked into another Jurassic Park movie on AMC right now.

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