Perhaps overshadowed historically by the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, Rony Seikaly was a reliable big man for the Orlando Magic in the post-Shaq era.
Seikaly spent 11 seasons in the NBA and averaged nearly 15 points per game for his career. His highest scoring average came in his two seasons as a member of the Magic.
On this day 25 years ago, Seikaly proved that he could not only score, but he could score in the clutch. His last-second jumper was the difference as Orlando topped the Toronto Raptors in overtime, 96-94.
Seikaly actually had the chance to put Orlando ahead late in regulation at Orlando Arena on Jan. 2, 1997. With the Magic trailing 90-89, Seikaly went to the line for two free throws, but hit only the second. Toronto guard Damon Stoudamire would get a good look at the end of regulation, but it was no good and the teams went to overtime.
The first four points in overtime belonged to Seikaly, but as Toronto had all night, it stormed back. The Raptors held the Magic scoreless for more than three minutes and finally drew even as Stoudamire knocked down a pair of free throws with 4.6 seconds left.
Seikaly wasn’t interested in playing a second overtime.
With the game on the line, a well-defended Seikaly was able to get off a fadeaway jumper. It was buried with just 0.4 seconds remaining and Orlando prevailed.
There were times throughout the night where the Magic seemed in control. Orlando led by 15 points after a quarter, but by halftime, the Raptors held a 44-42 lead. The Magic led by nine in the fourth quarter before an 11-1 run gave Toronto the lead.
The Raptors led 90-86 with a minute remaining in regulation, but a three-point play by Derek Strong was followed by Seikaly’s free throw. Seikaly finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds in the victory. Strong added 21 points and nine rebounds while Dennis Scott scored 15 points in the win.
Stoudamire paced Toronto with 32 points and 12 assists. Acie Earl added 23 points on an efficient 8-for-11 shooting and six blocks in the loss. Doug Christie chipped in with 14 points.
During the 1996-97 season, Seikaly averaged a career-high 17.3 points per game, shot 51% from the field and added 9.5 rebounds. He also proved to be a player that the Magic could trust in crunch time with a game-winner on this day a quarter-century ago.