Through the highs and the lows of the Orlando Magic, there has been one constant: Nick Anderson.
The first draft pick of the fledgling franchise back in 1989, Anderson was there in the glory days of Shaquille O'Neal. And he remained when the franchise took a major step back when O'Neal, blasting Anderson and others on his way out, left for the Los Angeles Lakers three years ago.
He has been overshadowed, first by O'Neal and since by Penny Hardaway, but Anderson has been a model of consistency all along. He's averaged better than 15 points a game in his 10-year career, played in nearly 700 games and is 22 points shy of scoring 10,000 points.
Anderson has been a versatile linchpin to the Magic all along. He can play small forward or move out to shooting guard. He has the range to bury 3-pointers (he's knocked down a third of his nearly 2,500 career 3-point tries) and has averaged better than five rebounds a game during his career.
The Magic went to the NBA Finals in 1995, after a 57-win season, and they won 60 in O'Neal's last year in 95-96. But Orlando slid to .500 last season before rebounding to match Indiana and Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference this season, at 33-17.
Anderson was key to the Magic's resurgence as the second-leading scorer and rebounder (at 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds a game) this season. And though he may not get the recognition of Hardaway -- or sixth-man Darrell Armstrong, or hustling rookie Matt Harpring, or free-agent center Ike Austin -- Anderson has proven once again that the Magic would not be the Magic without the original Magic man.